Florida reports 4 more local Zika cases; Texas cites fatal microcephaly

Wynwood mural
Wynwood mural

MCC_Indianapolis/ Flickr cc

Florida today reported four more locally acquired Zika cases, all from the same small area thought to be the source of nearly all of the infections, prompting a call from Gov. Rick Scott for Congress to return to Washington, DC, to pass a stalled Zika funding bill.

Meanwhile, Texas reported its first fatal Zika-linked microcephaly case, in a baby born to a mother infected outside the United States.

Local Florida cases climb to 21

In a statement, Scott said the newest cases are all from a small area of the Wynwood neighborhood, less than 1 square mile. The illnesses lift Florida's non-travel Zika cases to 21.

The Wynwood neighborhood is just north of downtown Miami and is a popular restaurant and entertainment district.

The Florida Department of Health (Florida Health) said in its daily Zika update that all four of the patients were exposed in the already-identified area of concern in Miami-Dade County and that it still believes active transmission is confined to that area.

Officials said they are still investigating where the virus exposure occurred in a local case reported yesterday in a Palm Beach County resident. Florida Health also said it is investigating where one other case-patient from outside the identified area contracted Zika virus.

Scott said that earlier this summer he allocated $26 million in state funding to fight Zika virus and that he has been meeting with local officials to ensure they have what they need for outbreak response. "But every day that passes that Congress and the president fail to come to an agreement hinders our national response to Zika. This is not only an issue affecting us here in Florida—this is a national issue."

He also said the Obama administration hasn't fulfilled Florida's request for an extra 10,000 Zika prevention kits for pregnant women or handed down a detailed plan for how Florida can work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to apply for emergency response funds.

In its update today, Florida Health said 14 more travel-related Zika cases have been reported, increasing the total to 369. Two more illnesses were reported in pregnant women, lifting that number to 57.

Texas newborn dies from Zika complications

In Texas, a baby who died shortly after birth in Harris County had Zika-linked microcephaly, according to an announcement today from the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS).

The baby's mother had been infected while in Latin America, and the baby contracted the virus during her pregnancy, according to the report, which added that both infections are classified as travel-related.

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) said the baby, a girl, had birth defects including microcephaly.

John Hellerstedt, MD, said in the TDSHS statement, "Zika’s impact on unborn babies can be tragic, and our hearts are with this family." He added that the department's top mission is to do everything it can to protect unborn babies from the devastating effects of the virus.

The findings in the baby mark Texas's second Zika-linked microcephaly case and are the state's first fatality from Zika complications. The first was reported on Jul 13 and also involved an infant born in Harris County to a mother who was likely infected in Latin America.

So far Texas has logged 99 Zika cases, including the two infants.

Other developments

  • The Cayman Islands have identified their first locally transmitted Zika virus case, in a man from George Town who became ill on Jul 25, according to a statement today from the territory's Health Services Authority. A blood sample tested at the Caribbean Public Health Agency was positive for Zika virus, and an investigation found that he had not traveled to any areas where the disease is circulating.

  • News of the first local Zika cases in the continental United States has stoked Americans' fear of the disease, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. In June, the poll revealed that 67% of respondents were "not too" or "not at all" worried about Zika virus, but that number fell slightly to 65% in the most recent poll.

See also:

Gov. Scott's Aug 9 statement

Aug 9 Florida Health update

Aug 9 TDSHS press release

Aug 9 HCPH statement

Jul 13 CIDRAP News Story "Texas reports Zika microcephaly; CDC says Olympic risk low"

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