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Update 2: On Monday, September 19, 2016, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood as being “Zika-free,” however the Zika zone was recently expanded for Miami Beach, so South Florida isn’t out of the woods just yet.
Update: Another area of active Zika transmission was recently identified in Miami Beach — five people contracted the virus, bringing the total of cases of locally-transferred Zika in Florida to 36. As a result, the CDC is recommending that pregnant women and their sexual partners avoid non-essential travel to Miami-Dade County for the time being as a precaution.
Issuing health warnings to the public is all part of the job for the professionals at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though the organization has been around for 70 years, it made history this week when — for the first time ever — it warned people against traveling to a specific US neighborhood over fears of an infectious disease.
That neighborhood would be Miami’s Wynwood District, home to some of the city’s most popular art galleries, restaurants and bars — and the area to which the majority of Florida’s 15 confirmed cases of Zika have been traced back.
“New test measurements over the weekend showed a risk of continued active transmission in that area,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told CNN. “Because of this finding, we are advising pregnant women not to travel to that area and if they have traveled there on or after June 15 to visit their health care provider for testing.”
In addition to advising pregnant women to stay away, the CDC is offering advice for Wynwood residents and anyone who has recently traveled to the area, providing info about mosquito bite prevention, safe sex practices and time frames for Zika testing (the virus can have a 3-12 day incubation period).
Though exactly what kind of impact the warning could have on tourism to Miami remains to be seen, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau is already reminding visitors that the affected area is only a tiny portion of the city.
“Pregnant women are encouraged to visit all of Miami-Dade County — except one square mile. That’s what the UK says, that’s what the CDC says,” GMCVB president and CEO William D. Talbert III told the Miami Herald.
Still, some establishments don’t want to take any chances. The Wynwood Yard, a popular open-air bar and restaurant, has temporarily closed amidst the Zika concerns. “We’re the only 100 percent outdoor venue in the neighborhood,” spokesperson Trina Sargalski told the Miami Herald. “For now, we’re not announcing a date for reopening.”
“I don’t think you should be scared, but we ought to be prudent,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, told CNN. “If you’re pregnant, let’s not go to that area of Miami where Zika is being transmitted. Let’s go someplace else or, if you have a business conference, let’s do it by phone. Pregnancies are precious; we want to be careful.”
If you’re considering a trip to Miami — or anywhere else known to have Zika Virus — check out these 5 easy tips to help prevent the mosquito-borne illness from ruining your vacation.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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