For the first time ever, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a travel advisory to a part of the continental U.S.—a one-square-mile area in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami, where 14 people were infected with Zika after being bitten by local mosquitoes.
CDC Director Thomas Frieden urged pregnant women who live and work in the area and their partners to make every effort to avoid mosquito bites and to practice safe sex, and said that expectant mothers who visited Wynwood any time after June 15 should be tested for Zika. The virus can cause severe birth defects in children of women infected at any time during pregnancy. Infection can occur after a mosquito bite or through sexual contact with an infected partner.
Frieden noted that the CDC advisory covers only a small area because the mosquito that spreads Zika—Aedes aegypti—can only travel about 500 feet.
Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of International Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, agreed with the CDC’s decision, noting that it doesn’t make sense to create panic when there isn’t evidence of the disease spreading elsewhere. The risk of getting Zika around Miami is “very, very small,” he said in an Aug. 1, 2016 NPR interview. “Most people who go to southern Florida today are not going to be bitten by a mosquito that is infected with Zika.”