Florida health officials say they’re investigating a second possible case of locally transmitted Zika infection.
On Tuesday, the first possible case of local infection in the continental United States was reported by the state’s health department. The first case involves a woman in Miami-Dade County, while the second involves a resident of Broward County, north of Miami.
Infection with the Zika virus, which in most cases is transmitted by mosquitoes, can cause the devastating birth defect microcephaly, which leads to babies born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.
Florida health officials are capturing and testing mosquitoes in the neighborhoods where the two unidentified patients live. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott has asked for assistance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Miami Herald reported Thursday.
The CDC said this week that it has provided $2 million for Zika preparedness and another $5.6 million was just allotted, the newspaper reported.
There have been more than 1,400 confirmed Zika cases in the United States, but so far all of them have been contracted through travel abroad — either by a mosquito bite or by sexual intercourse with someone who had traveled to a Zika-infected area.
Brazil has been the epicenter of the Zika epidemic to this point. Infections have also been reported in other Latin American and Caribbean nations.
CDC officials have said repeatedly they expect to see cases of local transmission of the Zika virus this summer in southern states with warm, humid climates such as Florida, Louisiana and Texas. The virus is typically transmitted through the bite of Aedes mosquitoes.
In addition to mosquitoes, the Zika virus can be transmitted through sex. The CDC has reported 14 cases of sexually transmitted infections. These infections are thought to have occurred because the patients’ partners had traveled to countries where Zika is circulating, the CDC said.
Typically, the Zika virus doesn’t cause serious illness. Only about 20 percent of patients notice symptoms.
But the virus also has been linked to a rare paralyzing condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome.
The CDC advises pregnant women not to travel to an area where Zika transmission is ongoing, and to use insect repellent and wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts if they are in those areas. Partners of pregnant women are advised to use a condom to guard against sexual transmission during pregnancy.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on mosquito-borne diseases.
This Q&A will tell you what you need to know about Zika.
To see the CDC list of sites where Zika virus is active and may pose a threat to pregnant women, click here.