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First victim of local Zika infection is Tampa fire­fighter living in Pinellas

At the Pinellas County Mosquito Control laboratory, researchers have been studying the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that can carry the Zika virus. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
Published Aug. 30, 2016

TAMPA — The single victim of a locally transmitted Zika virus infection in the Tampa Bay area is a firefighter with Tampa Fire Rescue who lives in Pinellas County, an agency spokesman said today.

Personnel at the station where the firefighter works also were tested for Zika and the results were negative, said Jason Penny, Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman.

Keeping Zika secret: Is it a good or bad idea?

The firefighter who was infected no longer has the virus, Penny said. The firefighter works at Station No. 3, Kennedy Boulevard at Willow Avenue.

No personal information of about the firefighter is being released, Penny said, because of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects the privacy and security of health information.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn said this morning he's known about the case for "a while" and is aware of the precautions that have been taken.

"We do not feel that any firefighter or anybody else is at risk," Buckhorn said. "We're confident that every precaution that needed to be taken has been taken, and that the particular firefighter will be back on the job and doing the great job that he or she has always done."

Gov. Rick Scott announced Aug. 23 that Pinellas had its first locally transmitted Zika case. State and local health officials are conducting a door-to-door outreach effort and have tested people known to be in direct contact with the infected resident.

Mosquito spraying in areas where the resident spent time outdoors was conducted on both sides of Tampa Bay.

Surgeon General Celeste Philip had declined to divulge where the infected resident lives or works until officials could confirm the virus is being spread in those locations.

But that could take up to two weeks and leaves residents and local governments too much in the dark, some local leaders have said.

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