CDC Warns Pregnant Women To Stay Away From Miami Beach

Miami Downtown skyline in daytime with Biscayne Bay.

The Zika virus may be hitting your next vacation spot.

Federal health officials are urging pregnant women to avoid travel to Miami Beach, after Florida Gov. Rick Scott confirmed on Friday that five cases of locally transmitted Zika virus have occurred there.

Until now, local transmission of mosquito-borne Zika — which can cause heart-breaking birth defects in babies — has been restricted to a neighborhood in north Miami known as Wynwood. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had already advised that pregnant women not travel to the Wynwood area, and on August 19, 2016 the agency extended that advisory to include the Zika-affected area of Miami Beach.

“We believe we have a new area where local transmission is occurring in Miami Beach,” Scott told reporters during a noon news conference.”

“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,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a media briefing held Friday.

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A broader travel advisory for pregnant women could threaten tourism and heighten fears for pregnant women living in the Miami area.

The Zika virus is typically transmitted via mosquitoes and can cause a transient illness. It is most dangerous to pregnant women, due to the virus’ link to microcephaly, a devastating birth defect where babies are born with smaller than normal heads and underdeveloped brains.

Zika is spread sexually as well as by mosquitoes, so any sex partner of a pregnant woman, or a woman who might get pregnant, needs to take precautions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that men who may have been infected use a condom for the duration of a sex partner’s pregnancy. Women who may have been infected need to put off getting pregnant for at least eight weeks and because the virus can live in semen for six months or longer, men who may have been infected should avoid unprotected sex for at least that long. Zika doesn’t always cause symptoms so people need to be aware that if they’ve been somewhere that Zika is spreading, it’s possible they were infected and did not notice.

“Although the state of Florida, with CDC’s assistance, has mounted and continues to mount an aggressive response,…