CDC recently issued a statement that it “has and will continue to provide support to Florida to address the Zika outbreak.”
“CDC experts in epidemiology, surveillance, and vector control have been on the ground for weeks supporting the state of Florida’s response,” the statement continues.
CDC has provided $35 million in federal funds for Zika and emergency response, including public health and emergency preparedness funds that can be used to purchase items for Zika prevention kits. CDC also has provided 10,000 bottles of DEET for the kits.
CDC is also providing support for Zika lab testing. To date, CDC has shipped enough material for Florida to conduct 6,300 Zika antibody tests. CDC’s Fort Collins laboratory is also testing specimens from pregnant women for the Florida Department of Health, and is working with Florida on other possible support for Zika lab testing.
In July, CDC had been informed by the state of Florida that Zika virus infections in four people were likely caused by bites of local Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The cases are likely the first known occurrence of local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission in the continental United States.
“All the evidence we have seen indicates that this is mosquito-borne transmission that occurred several weeks ago in several blocks in Miami,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “We continue to recommend that everyone in areas where Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are present—and especially pregnant women—take steps to avoid mosquito bites. We will continue to support Florida’s efforts to investigate and respond to Zika and will reassess the situation and our recommendations on a daily basis.”
Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus), but can also be spread during sex by a person infected with Zika. Most people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms, but for those who do, the illness is usually mild. However, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly, a serious birth defect of the brain, and other severe fetal birth defects.
“We have been working with state and local governments to prepare for the likelihood of local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission in the continental United States and Hawaii,” says Lyle Petersen, MD, MPH, incident manager for CDC’s Zika virus response. “We anticipate that there may be additional cases of ‘homegrown’ Zika in the coming weeks. Our top priority is to protect pregnant women from the potentially devastating harm caused by Zika.”
CDC has been working with state, local, and territorial health officials to prepare for locally transmitted Zika infection in the United States. Officials from Florida participated in all these activities, and their experience in responding to mosquito-borne diseases similar to Zika, including dengue and chikungunya, has helped guide their current investigations.
As of July 27, 2016, 1,658 cases of Zika have been reported to CDC in the continental United States and Hawaii; none of these were the result of local spread by mosquitoes. These cases include 15 believed to be the result of sexual transmission and one that was the result of a laboratory exposure. This number does not include the four Florida cases likely caused by local transmission.