Last updated: 08:21 PM ET, Sun August 21 2016

CDC Issues Zika-Related Travel Warning for Miami Beach

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | August 20, 2016

CDC Issues Zika-Related Travel Warning for Miami Beach

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new travel warning to pregnant women to avoid parts of Miami Beach where five new cases of the Zika virus have been found.

“As a result, we now recommend the following. Pregnant women should avoid travel to the designated area of Miami Beach, in addition to the designated area of Wynwood, because active local transmission of Zika has been confirmed,” VDV Director Dr. Tom Frieden said on a conference call. “Pregnant women and their partners living in or traveling to the designated areas should be aware of active Zika virus transmission and do everything they can to prevent mosquito bites.  Those who live in or have traveled to the designated area of Miami Beach since July 14th, 2016, should be aware of active Zika virus transmission and people who have a pregnant sex partner should consistently and correctly use condoms to prevent infection when they have sex.  Pregnant women and their sexual partners who are concerned about potential Zika virus exposure may also consider postponing nonessential travel to all parts of Miami-Dade County.”

Women and men who live in or frequently travel to areas where Zika is spreading, and this includes now the two confirmed zones in Miami-Dade County, and who don't have signs and symptoms of Zika, should talk to their health care provider to inform their decisions about the timing of pregnancy, Frieden added.

READ MORE: What Travelers Should Know About Zika

He also sounded a bit of an ominous note.

“There are undoubtedly more infections that we're not aware of right now,” he said. “Most people, perhaps four out of five with Zika infection, don't have any symptoms.  It can take up to two weeks for those who do have symptoms for those symptoms to appear after infection.”

Frieden said the CDC can’t predict how long this will continue, and that it will be difficult to control. Just in the small six-block area of Miami Beach where the new cases were confirmed, aerial spraying can’t be used because of high rise buildings and hotels.

There is also the heavily tourist-laden South Beach area to be concerned about, and Frieden said he realizes tourists and residents alike will hardly heed the advice to wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.

“So each of the areas where disease is spreading needs to be handled individually and differently, but intensively, to try to knock down the mosquito populations, and to control, and to protect the individuals who are there,” he said. “Covered skin is safer than uncovered, but uncovered skin with DEET on it is also safe.  So getting mosquito repellent widely used is important, but because of the large numbers of people there, we do anticipate that there may well be other travel-associated or locally-identified cases that we determine are present.”

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