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Zika Virus Might Have Been Transmitted By Mosquito For 1st Time In U.S.

By Suzanne McCarroll

DENVER (CBS4) - Health officials in Florida are looking into whether, for the first time in the U.S., the Zika virus has been transmitted by a mosquito.

Health officials theorize that what could have happened is that a person returning to the U.S. with the Zika virus was bitten by an uninfected mosquito which then went on to spread the illness to others.

Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center says it's a possibility.

Zika Virus

"We anticipated that, and as soon as it's discovered, local and state health departments and the CDC promptly will do interventions to make sure the spread is very limited. Zika will not establish itself widely in the U.S.," Schaffner said.

There have been more than 1,300 cases of the mosquito-borne illness in the U.S. Most have been travel-related. Fourteen were sexually transmitted. In the Florida case, sexual transmission hasn't yet been ruled out.

Schaffner reminds people of the symptoms.

"People who get bitten by a mosquito, 80 percent of them don't get sick at all. If you do get sick, you get aches and pains, a rash and conjunctivitis."

Florida residents are being urged to protect themselves against mosquitos -- remove standing water in their area, wear insect repellent and protective clothing. It's wise advice for people in all parts of the country.

Suzanne McCarroll is a general assignment reporter at CBS4. Her stories can regularly be seen on CBS4 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @SuzanneCBS4.

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