The Texas Department of State Health Services Friday confirmed four new cases of locally transmitted Zika virus in Cameron County, on the border with Mexico, the same day that Florida declared Miami Beach free of the virus.
The new cases were detected very close to the first one, contracted by a mosquito bite and announced on Nov. 28, so health authorities now believe a total number of five people were infected in the same area. The four new infected people showed symptoms of Zika between Nov. 29 and Dec. 1, indicating that they were infected before Texas intensified its efforts to control mosquitoes in the border area following detection of the first case.
Health authorities said none of the four patients are pregnant and had not traveled to Mexico or any other country where the virus has spread. The State Department also said that tests were being conducted on people living in the vicinity of the affected area, although there has been no other further evidence of the virus being transmitted.
Due to the risk of congenital defects associated with Zika, the department warned that pregnant women should avoid traveling to Mexico, where multiple cases of the virus have been confirmed, and that if they did travel there, should not have unprotected sex.
Florida Governor Rick Scott Friday declared Miami Beach, the last region where transmission was detected, free of the outbreak, making it the fourth area of Miami-Dade County to be cleared by authorities. The first Zika cases were confirmed in Texas in July and since then 249 locally transmitted cases have been reported. Until Dec. 7, a total of 4,575 people had been infected with the virus in the United States, the majority related to travel to areas at risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.