State reports non-travel Zika case in Pinellas

Evan Axelbank reports

- Zika may no longer be confined to South Florida.  Governor Rick Scott's office this morning announced an apparent non-travel-related case in Pinellas County, which could be the first locally transmitted case of the mosquito-borne virus in the Bay Area.

The news was announced in a press release from the governor's office, but it was not immediately clear if the individual was infected with the virus in Pinellas County or in the previously defined Zika zones in the Miami area.

"Today, we learned that the Florida Department of Health is investigating one new individual with non-travel related Zika in Pinellas County," the statement explained.  "While this investigation is ongoing, DOH still believes that ongoing active transmissions are only occurring in the two previously identified areas in Wynwood and Miami Beach."

Earlier this month, the state and federal governments identified those two neighborhoods in South Florida as the only locations where mosquitos were transmitting the virus, which can cause birth defects.

Mosquito eradication has become a top priority around the state, with Tampa's mayor just yesterday urging residents to dump standing water and drain stagnant pools.

"In Pinellas County, the Department of Health and Pinellas County Mosquito Control are already working together and have begun aggressive spraying and mosquito abatement efforts. Any pregnant woman who would like to receive a free Zika test or a Zika prevention kit should contact the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County," the governor's statement continued. 

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Health officials would not identify where the area of Zika transmission occurred in Pinellas County because if there are no additional cases in that area, there would be no risk to the public, health officials said.

"We do work with places and people that she spends the most time with. That includes the home, that includes the workplace and any activities she may have done in and out of the county," said Dr. Ulyee Choe, Director of the Florida Dept. of Health in Pinellas County.

Any Pinellas County resident who would like to request mosquito control services for their home or business should contact Pinellas County Mosquito Control, the governor added.

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