Miami Neighborhood Is Zika-Free After A Scary Local Transmission Outbreak
Health officials in Miami-Dade County, Florida are celebrating a success this week after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared that the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami is now Zika-free, according to Time. The announcement seemed particularly symbolic because Wynwood was the first area in the mainland U.S. to have confirmed cases of locally transmitted Zika. In a statement to the press on Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said it has been 45 days since the last case of local Zika transmission in the Wynwood neighborhood.
"Everybody should be coming back here and enjoying themselves," Scott said. According to the CDC, the complete halting of Zika transmission in Wynwood is the direct result of both aerial and street-level pesticide sprays.
The story in the nearby Miami Beach neighborhood, though, is different. On Friday, the mayor's office announced that the infection zone has expanded from a 4.5-square-mile area composed mostly of South Beach, a popular tourist destination, to a larger, 7-square-mile area. Dr. Lyle Petersen of the CDC told Time that containment has been less successful in Miami Beach because "tall buildings and ocean breezes" render aerial pesticide spraying less effective.
The CDC continues to advise that pregnant women and their partners postpone all "nonessential travel" to Miami-Dade County. Given that local transmission is still a problem in Miami Beach, the continued travel warnings are certainly understandable. Just this week, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported that another batch of mosquito samples collected from the Miami Beach neighborhood tested positive for Zika.
For context, this is the fifth batch of 3,200 to test positive since the beginning of the local outbreak. Still, the ongoing presence of Zika-positive mosquitoes in the neighborhood prompted The Miami Herald to file suit against Miami-Dade this week in hopes that the County will disclose the precise locations of all Zika-positive mosquito samples. To date, the County has disclosed that one of the samples derived from the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, but has been mum about the precise provenance of the other four, according to The Herald.
Regardless of the frustrating news from Miami Beach, the Wynwood success at least shows that aggressive spraying does work. Participation from Wynwood community members was also important: During today's news conference, Scott said that local business owners and residents were compliant in keeping their properties clear of standing water.
Business owners in Wynwood certainly had impetus to do whatever they could to help the cause — the CDC's previous warnings that pregnant women and their partners should avoid the Wynwood area caused a "significant slump" for local businesses, according to The Herald. The updated CDC warning now includes the Wynwood neighborhood as part of the more general, less stringent guidelines covering all of Miami-Dade County, though it continues to advise that men and women who traveled to Wynwood any time between June 15 and Sept. 18 should wait at least eight weeks before trying to become pregnant.
To date, there have been 95 cases of local Zika transmission in Florida. After this week's success story in Wynwood, there's reason to hope that this number won't increase, at least not by much.