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Zika Virus Reportedly Found in Popular Florida Tourist Location

  • VOA News

FILE - An inspector with the Miami-Dade County mosquito control department, looks for standing water as he inspects an empty lot, Aug. 2, 2016, in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, Florida.

FILE - An inspector with the Miami-Dade County mosquito control department, looks for standing water as he inspects an empty lot, Aug. 2, 2016, in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, Florida.

Two cases of the Zika virus have been identified in Miami Beach, one of the world's most popular tourist spots, U.S. media reported Thursday.

The mosquito-borne virus, first detected in Brazil last year, is relatively mild in most cases. However, pregnant women who are infected with Zika risk giving birth to babies with a congenital defect called microcephaly, which causes an abnormally small head and developmental problems.

The first local transmission of the Zika virus in the United States was detected in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, in the southern state of Florida, earlier this month.

Florida's Department of Health said there are 35 cases of likely local transmission in the state, including the two new cases that were identified Thursday outside of the Wynwood neighborhood.

Miami Beach officials were not available to comment, although The Miami Herald reported Thursday that Miami Beach officials were sent to the area to inspect for mosquito breeding sites.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention referred calls by Reuters to state health officials.

The spread of the virus is alarming for the hospitality industry in South Florida, which is a huge tourist destination.

In 2015, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau said 15.5 million people spent at least one night in the Greater Miami area and generated nearly $24.4 billion in revenue. Of those visitors, 48 percent stayed in Miami Beach, the bureau said.

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