Fear for the Zika virus has moved the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a negative travel advice for certain areas of Miami, Florida; pregnant women are advised to avoid parts of the city, while women who recently visited these areas of Miami are advised to not become pregnant in the coming months. If women who visited the area are already pregnant, they are advised to get tested. This event signifies a unique milestone in the history of the United States and the CDC; never before has a travel warning been issued for a destination within the country itself.
While there are already more than 1600 known cases of Zika in the United States, so far all of these cases were contracted outside of the USA, mainly in South and Central America. However, it turns out that at least 14 people in Miami recently contracted the virus after being bitten by local mosquitos. All victims are from the quarter Wynwood in Miami; this is the area therefore targeted by the travel warning of the CDC. The local population is advised to take the necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
A team of CDC experts has been deployed to Florida to prevent the virus from spreading further. Still, it seems a matter of time before the virus will further spread amongst the warmer southern states and the east coast of the USA. According to experts the Zika virus will constitute a new exotic disease that is bound to stay in the USA. If a local mosquito bites someone who carries the virus, the mosquito can become a vector and move on to infect numerous people.
Generally the symptoms of a Zika infection are mild. Only 1 in 5 patients actually experience symptoms such as fever, rash and pain in the joints. While relatively innocent for most people, pregnant women are at risk of far more adverse outcomes. Infection with the Zika virus can lead to neurological disorders in fetuses (microcephaly).