U.S. health officials said Friday that four cases of Zika virus were transmitted locally by mosquitoes in Miami, the first evidence of the virus spreading that way in the continental U.S.
Previous cases have been caused by travel to affected areas or sexual contact with an infected person, and the report from Florida suggests that outbreaks of the virus could become common in some parts of the country, rather than just being imported from abroad.
“As we have anticipated, Zika is now here. Everything we’ve seen so far indicates to us that this is mosquito-borne transmission,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden said Friday on a call with reporters. While the findings are concerning, and more cases could be found, health officials “don’t expect widespread transmission in the continental U.S.,” he said.
The Florida Department of Health is investigating a small area in Miami, just north of downtown, where it “believes that active transmission of the Zika virus is occurring,” the state health agency said in a statement. The area, which is about a square mile, includes the Wynwood neighborhood — known for its art district and restaurants. One of the cases involves a woman and the other three involve men.