WASHINGTON — The White House said President Obama hopped on the phone with Florida Gov. Rick Scott today to strategize after the Florida Department of Health announced what could be the first case of Zika transmission within the United States.
As of July 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,306 cases of the mosquito-borne virus in the country, all linked to travel to countries with transmission within their borders. Fourteen of those cases were sexually transmitted by a partner who had been abroad. There are 2,916 known cases in U.S. territories.
As of July 7, there are 346 cases involving pregnant women in the U.S. and an additional 303 cases in U.S. territories.
On Tuesday, Florida officials said they were “actively conducting an epidemiological investigation” into the possible local transmission case in Miami-Dade County in collaboration with the CDC.
“Zika prevention kits and repellent will be available for pickup at DOH-Miami-Dade and distributed in the area under investigation. Zika kits are intended for pregnant women,” the health department announced. “Mosquito control has already conducted reduction and prevention activities in the area of investigation.”
In a readout of the call between Obama and Scott, the White House said the president “recognized Florida’s strong record of responding aggressively to local outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses like Zika, and offered federal support and technical assistance for Florida’s ongoing case investigation and mosquito control efforts.”
“He acknowledged Florida’s close coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC for Zika preparedness,” the readout added. “The president also noted during the call that in addition to the $2 million that CDC has provided to Florida for Zika preparedness, CDC is anticipating it will award Florida $5.6 million in Zika funding through a CDC grant to be awarded this week.”
The CDC announced Monday that it was assisting in the investigation of another possible local transmission case in Utah. An elderly resident had traveled to an area affected by Zika and died in late June with more than 100,000 times the amount of virus in his blood than usually detected in those who have contracted Zika.
They’re investigating how a “family contact” of that victim also contracted the virus.
“The new case in Utah is a surprise, showing that we still have more to learn about Zika,” Dr. Erin Staples, CDC’s medical epidemiologist on the ground in Utah, said in a statement. “Fortunately, the patient recovered quickly, and from what we have seen with more than 1,300 travel-associated cases of Zika in the continental United States and Hawaii, non-sexual spread from one person to another does not appear to be common.”
Last week, the CDC reported the first case of female-to-male Zika transmission in New York City.