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Four Zika Cases, Likely Locally Transmitted, Reported in Florida

  • VOA News

FILE - In this June 28, 2016 file photo, Evaristo Miqueli, a natural resources officer with Broward County Mosquito Control, takes water samples decanted from a watering jug, checking for the presence of mosquito larvae in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

FILE - In this June 28, 2016 file photo, Evaristo Miqueli, a natural resources officer with Broward County Mosquito Control, takes water samples decanted from a watering jug, checking for the presence of mosquito larvae in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

The Southern state of Florida has reported four cases of the Zika virus, seemingly not linked to travel, Florida Governor Rick Scott told a press conference Friday.

"Florida has become the first state in our country to have a local transmission of the Zika virus," Scott said. Until now, about 1,650 cases of Zika reported in the U.S. had been linked to travel to countries in Latin America or the Caribbean that are facing outbreaks.

The four Florida cases are contained to a small area north of downtown Miami, Scott said, quoting state health officials.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said President Barack Obama was briefed about the situation Friday morning. He said the Obama administration is supporting the efforts of Scott, who he praised for aggressively testing the area for the Zika virus and preparing for quite some time for a potential outbreak.

FILES - This file photo taken on June 7, 2016 shows Miami-Dade mosquito control worker Carlos Vargas pointing to the Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae at a home in Miami, Florida.

FILES - This file photo taken on June 7, 2016 shows Miami-Dade mosquito control worker Carlos Vargas pointing to the Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae at a home in Miami, Florida.

Florida has requested $15 million in emergency Zika funding to collect and test mosquitoes and provide Zika preparedness programs, among other things. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it has provided $8 million.

OneBlood, Florida's main supplier of blood donations, has said it will be testing all of its supply for the Zika virus.

The mosquito that carries the Zika virus is found in southern U.S. states. Health officials predicted that the virus would begin spreading this summer and have tried to contain it to isolated areas.

Though the virus is relatively mild in most cases, many pregnant women who are infected with Zika give birth to babies with a congenital defect called microcephaly, which causes an abnormally small head. More than 1,600 such cases have been reported in Brazil, where the outbreak began last year.

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