By Julie Steenhuysen
(Reuters) – Florida health officials are investigating a new non-travel- related case of Zika virus in Palm Beach County, but it is not yet clear whether the person contracted the virus from local mosquitoes or from a recent trip to Miami.
Governor Rick Scott said in a statement on Monday that the infected person recently traveled to Miami-Dade County, which is experiencing an outbreak of Zika caused by local mosquito transmission. So far, 16 people have been infected in the Miami area. The Palm Beach case brings the state’s tally to 17.
An investigation was under way to determine how the person in Palm Beach County became infected.
The governor said the state still believed active transmission of the virus were confined to a one-square-mile (260-hectare) area in Miami-Dade County that includes Miami’s Wynwood district.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning pregnant women to avoid this area in Miami because Zika has been tied to birth defects, including microcephaly, which can case severe developmental problems.
With the school year approaching, Scott said he had ordered the department of health to work with the state’s department of education “to ensure students, parents, educators and district leaders have all the resources and guidance they need to combat the Zika virus.”
The continuing Zika outbreak was first detected last year in Brazil, where it has been linked to more than 1,700 cases of the microcephaly, and has since spread rapidly through the Americas. Its arrival in the continental United States has been widely anticipated.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bernard Orr and Jonathan Oatis)