CDC: There may be additional locally spread Zika infections
First, the good news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it and the state have planned ahead and prepared for Zika to reach Florida's shores.
But there remains uncertainty as the first cases of Zika likely spread by mosquitoes in the United States were confirmed Friday.
"As we have anticpated, Zika is now here," CDC Director Tom Frieden said on a call with reporters and scientists. "There may well be more cases that we are not aware of right now because most people infected with Zika do not show symptoms."
The four cases confirmed by the Florida Department of Health on Friday involve three men and one woman who live in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Health officials believe the infection was spread within a one-mile radius around Wynwood, north of downtown Miami, where all four patients work. They were infected in early July.
But the CDC is not encouraging people to steer clear of Wynwood.
"We currently do not see a situation where people should cease travel into the area," Frieden said. "If, however, cases were to continue in the area, even after the mosquito control efforts were undertaken, that would be a very different situation."
Gov. Rick Scott and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced earlier in the day plans to ramp up mosquito control in South Florida, provide Zika testing at county health departments and fund testing of blood donations.
Frieden said additional resources are needed to better combat the virus, which has been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, where a newborn's head is smaller than normal. He issued a plea for Congress to enact a rapid response fund for infectious diseases.
"We are doing the best we can with the resources we have available to us and the authorities we have available to us," Frieden said. "If we had more resources we would be able to mount a more roubust response."
Still, he said, the CDC does not inspect a massive outbreak of the disease.
Indeed, the CDC anticipated pockets of infection such as the four cases in South Florida, based on its experience fighting Dengue and Chikungunya.
"We dont expect widespread transmission in the continental U.S.," Frieden said. "If however we were to see continuing spread in this area or somewhere else or explosive spread then we would absolutely issue travel guidance. That's not the situation we’re in today."