Miami residents are on the alert after Florida state authorities revealed a total of 14 cases of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that is linked to microcephaly and other serious birth defects. Pregnant women, in particular, are taking extra precautions this week, wearing long-sleeved shirts, staying indoors as much as possible and, perhaps most importantly, trying to stay calm.
Florida authorities announced suspected cases of Zika two weeks ago and confirmed them just a week ago. Since then, authorities have pinpointed one square mile of Miami called Wynwood where the outbreak is concentrated. Pregnant women have been warned to stay away from the area, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an unprecedented travel warning, saying that women who have been to Miami recently should not try to get pregnant for two months.
In addition, police are going door-to-door in that neighborhood, trying to warn residents of the dangers of Zika and handing out bug spray to homeless people and other pedestrians. And the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, asked the federal government for help to prevent a bigger epidemic.
Worldwide, Zika has been linked to more than 1,700 cases of microencephaly, a serious birth defect that results in brain malformation. The virus is transmitted via the bite of an infected mosquito, from a pregnant mother to her unborn fetus, through sexual intercourse or blood transfusion.