CDC issues Zika travel warning to Florida, local officials monitoring disease

Posted at 4:55 PM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-03 07:52:18-04

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel warning Monday for pregnant women traveling to Florida.

This comes after 14 confirmed cases of Zika were found in a one-square mile neighborhood north of Miami. It's the first locally transmitted outbreak of the disease in the United States.

The entire country is monitoring this disease, including here in Milwaukee.

The City of Milwaukee Health Department has been conducting surveillance on mosquitos since the beginning of June using 19 mosquito trap cups.

Officials are looking for two specific species of mosquito known to carry the Zika virus.

"Based on the range of this particular mosquito, we've placed them strategically around the city of Milwaukee," said Paul Biedrzycki, director of infectious disease at the health department. "And again we're trying to identify if this mosquito is even prevalent in the city of Milwaukee."

So far, the two specific species of mosquito known to carry the disease haven't been found in Wisconsin. But one species has been found in Illinois, Iowa and parts of Minnesota.

If they do find those species locally, Biedrzycki says it will give them a better idea of the risk of human infection here.

"Certainly we would enhance surveillance of the disease both in terms of travelers and then individuals who just live and reside in this area," he said.

Pregnant women are the most vulnerable population when it comes to Zika because the virus has been known to cause birth defects, according to health officials.

If pregnant women or couples can't avoid travel to infected locations, the health department advises using bug spray and mosquito nets.

They also put together travel kits for pregnant women and couples planning to conceive and plan to distribute them at community health centers.

The CDC also recently launched a registry for pregnant women who were exposed to or infected with Zika.

As of July 21, there were 433 pregnant women in the U.S. with lab evidence of the Zika virus.

"This allows us to collect very important information in the course of pregnancy as well as the health of newborns for individuals that have been infected with Zika during pregnancy," said Biedrzycki.

Here are the guidelines provided by the CDC for pregnant women and their partners following the travel warning.

  • Pregnant women should not travel to this area.
  • Pregnant women and their partners living in or traveling to this area should follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Women and men who live in or traveled to this area and who have a pregnant sex partner should use condoms or other barriers to prevent infection every time they have sex or not have sex during the pregnancy.
  • All pregnant women in the United States should be assessed for possible Zika virus exposure during each prenatal care visit.
  • Pregnant women who live in or frequently travel to this area should be tested in the first and second trimester of pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women with possible Zika exposure and signs or symptoms of Zika should be tested for Zika.
  • Pregnant women who traveled to or had unprotected sex with a partner that traveled to or lives in this area should talk to their healthcare provider and should be tested for Zika.

Couples thinking about getting pregnant:

  • Women with Zika should wait at least 8 weeks and men with Zika should wait at least 6 months after symptoms began to try to get pregnant.
  • Women and men who live in or frequently travel to this area should talk to their healthcare provider.
  • Women and men who traveled to this area should wait at least 8 weeks before trying to get pregnant.