State Capital Briefs (Evening Edition) The News Service of Florida
Health officials Friday continued investigating two South Florida Zika cases that might not be linked to travel to other countries. Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Health said the state has 19 new travel-related cases. The department announced earlier this week that it was investigating cases in Miami-Dade and Broward counties that could involve infections not linked to travel. The mosquito-borne virus, which emerged last year in South America, is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and can cause severe birth defects. While cases were linked to people who had traveled to other countries, state and federal officials have feared that the virus would start to be spread by mosquitoes in Florida and other parts the United States. In a news release Friday, the Department of Health said a medical epidemiologist with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had arrived in Florida to help with the investigation into the Miami-Dade and Broward cases. "To date, approximately 200 people have been interviewed and tested as part of the department's investigations and we await additional lab results," the release said. It added that the department is "conducting door-to-door outreach with mosquito control in the areas surrounding the residences, work places and frequently visited locations of both suspect cases. Residents and visitors are urged to participate in requests for blood and urine samples by the department in the areas of investigation. These results will help the department determine the number of people affected." The 19 travel-related cases announced Friday brought to 306 the number of cases not involving pregnant women. The state also has monitored 47 pregnant women, with 15 having met an early definition for Zika cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists have released a new definition of Zika cases, the Department of Health said in the release.