The outbreak is the first time Zika has been transmitted by mosquitoes in the U.S.
On Friday, Florida officials announced that mosquitoes in Florida likely infected four people with the Zika virus. This is the first case where Zika was transmitted via infected mosquitoes in the continental United States
“We learned today that four people in our state likely have the Zika virus as a result of a mosquito bite,” said Governor Rick Scott during a press conference. “All four of these people live in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and the Florida Department of Health believes that active transmissions of this virus could be occurring in one small area in Miami.”
The announcement follows a health department investigation into the four suspected cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also made the same announcement on Friday. “The cases are likely the first known occurrence of local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission in the continental United States,” its statement noted.
The CDC said state officials are rapidly responding with mosquito-control measures and are continuing to investigate if other people in the area have been infected.
Although health officials are not calling for limiting travel to the Miami area, the CDC has been recommending for months that pregnant women or women thinking of becoming pregnant should avoid traveling to Zika-affected areas due to the devastating consequences the virus can inflict on a fetus.
Florida has seen more than 380 travel-related Zika cases so far, including more than 50 in pregnant women. There have been more than 1,650 cases in US states, almost all of which are travel-related.
The CDC continues to recommend that everyone in areas where the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are present—and especially pregnant women—take steps to avoid mosquito bites.
The CDC will continue to reassess the situation and recommendations on a daily basis.