CDC: Zika Risk in Florida Likely Goes Beyond Miami-Dade County

Megan Brooks

March 13, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned today that the potential for Zika virus transmission likely extends beyond Miami-Dade County, Florida, to Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The CDC, working with the Florida Department of Health, recently conducted additional analysis of locally acquired Zika cases, including analysis of resident travel patterns between Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

"This analysis has led to CDC identifying that since June 15, 2016, there has been a potential increased Zika risk for residents in Broward and Palm Beach counties because of local travel to areas of active transmission in Florida and challenges associated with defining sources of exposure," the agency said in a news release.

"This increased risk is particularly relevant for semen because of evidence regarding the persistence of Zika virus in this reproductive tissue," the CDC said.

The potential increased risk for Zika virus exposure associated with semen may be attributed to several factors, the CDC said: namely, local transmission of Zika virus in Miami-Dade County, evidence confirming that Zika virus can persist in semen longer than in other body fluids, the ongoing concern about Zika virus infections that go undetected because people have mild or no symptoms, challenges defining the source and location of Zika virus exposure, and the regular movement of people between and within the three counties.

Although blood donations in the United States are tested for Zika virus, testing for tissue donors, including semen donors, is not currently available, the CDC notes. However, tissue donors are asked travel history questions, and if they have traveled to or live in an area of active Zika virus transmission, they would be determined ineligible under current guidance.

Women and their partners, in consultation with their healthcare providers, should consider this potential risk when trying to conceive, the CDC advised.

In addition, the agency said healthcare providers should counsel their pregnant patients who might have been exposed to semen from men potentially infected with Zika virus about this risk. Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been linked to microcephaly and congenital Zika syndrome that includes brain abnormalities, eye defects, hearing loss, and limb defects.

The CDC, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health, has issued guidance on preventing Zika transmission for residents and visitors living in or traveling to the tricounty area.

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