Zika zone triples in Miami Beach after new cases

Miami, Sep 17 (IANS) The zone of active transmission of Zika virus in Miami Beach has tripled to now encompass two-thirds of the seaside city, a media report said.

Governor Rick Scott made the expansion announcement on Friday night.

The zone now stretches from 8th Street to 63rd Street – a 4.5-square-mile zone covering all of South and Middle Beach, The Miami Herald reported.

The Florida Department of Health has identified five people who all experienced symptoms within one month of each other – three of them in the newly expanded area, according to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

The announcement extended the nation’s second designated Zika zone so far north that it now covers virtually all of Miami Beach, the heart of Miami-Dade’s tourism industry as the slow summer season gives way to the busier vacation stretch of the fall and winter.

The number of locally transmitted cases is now 93, which includes at least 10 people who live outside the state but acquired the virus here.

The announcement will likely be followed by an expanded travel advisory warning pregnant women not to go to active transmission zones, according to authorities.

As the zone grows and public health concerns mount, Zika is already affecting the local tourist economy – with one hotel reporting its worst three-week period in the past 15 years, The Miami Herald added.

–IANS

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