Pregnant women urged against Florida travel after Zika alert

Pregnant women urged against Florida travel after Zika alert
This 2006 file photo shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is behind the large outbreaks of Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean. Picture: AP

Pregnant women are being advised to postpone non-essential trips to Florida because of the Zika virus.

Public health authorities updated their travel advice after the first cases of Zika transmitted by mosquitoes on the US mainland appeared in the state.

The risk in the state on the south-east coast of the United States is classed as moderate, while many countries in South America, including Olympic host Brazil, is high.

The Zika virus has been associated with a birth defect called microcephaly, which results in children being born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.

More than 1,650 Zika infections have been reported in the US, but four patients in Florida have tested positive for the virus and appear to be the first not linked to travel outside the US mainland.

A zone of about one square mile in Miami-Dade County is considered at risk of active transmission.

Governor of Florida Rick Scott said they were taking the development seriously, the US Department of Health was testing people in the affected area to watch for other cases of the virus.

He added no mosquito traps from the area had yet tested positive for the Zika virus.

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