Miami Considered As Ground Zero For Zika Virus Outbreak In The US; City’s Tropical Weather An Ideal Mosquito Breeding Ground
Miami's tropical weather makes it an ideal breeding ground for Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus. This is why experts think that the city in Florida is ground zero for a possible Zika outbreak in the United States.
The news was announced during the information session called "Zika and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know" at the Baptist Health Resource Center. Dr. Jason James, chairman of the hospital's department of obstetrics and gynecology and the event's moderator, said that aside from Miami's tropical weather, the city is vulnerable to a Zika outbreak due to the high amount of Latin American travelers there, Miami Herald reported.
Zika Cases In Florida
James said Miami is currently in "a stage of prevention," the news outlet added. Miami-Dade County reported the highest number of Zika cases (51) as of Wednesday. Broward comes in second place with 19 cases. In the whole state of Florida, 172 Zika cases were reported as of Wednesday, according to the Florida Department of Health.
It is most dangerous for pregnant women to acquire Zika because they can transfer the virus to their unborn child. Newborn babies with Zika have eye damages and microcephaly, a congenital condition where infants' heads are abnormally small and they have incomplete brain development. Recent reports also found that men infected with Zika can transfer the virus via unprotected sex.
Dr. Michael Jacobs, a reproductive endocrinologist, advised men affected with Zika to use latex condoms and for couples to wait at least eight weeks before trying to procreate. Jacobs added that Zika has a longer lifespan in a man's sperm than in the blood. Couples, however, can opt to freeze their sperm before traveling to countries where the Zika outbreak is currently active.
Brazil is the outbreak's point of origin. Public health officials are worried about the virus' repercussions especially in the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where almost 500,000 athletes and visitors are expected to attend in August.
US States Expected To Have Zika
Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in the Journal of Medical Entomology that 183 counties from 26 states and the District of Columbia have Aedes aegypti mosquito populations between January 1995 and March 2016. Aedes albopictus mosquito populations occur in 1,241 counties from 40 states and the District of Columbia.
Some of those states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, New Hampshire and Michigan. Those mosquitoes don't just carry Zika; they also transmit yellow fever, chikungunya and dengue.