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Officials Say Zika Transmission Identified In Miami's South Beach

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Florida Gov. Rick Scott says officials have identified a second area of Zika transmission on the U.S. mainland.

Scott told reporters Friday that five Zika infections have been linked to an area that encompasses most of the tourist-friendly neighborhood of South Beach.

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"Two of these individuals are Florida residents and live in Miami-Dade County," Scott said. "One person is a resident of New York, one person is a resident of Texas and one person is a resident of Taiwan. All three of these people traveled to Miami."

Florida Department of health spokeswoman Mara Gambineri said officials believe the cases were transmitted by mosquitoes. Another infection zone was previously identified in Miami's Wynwood arts district.

Scott said the county has begun an aggressive mosquito eradication plan in Miami Beach.

"We believe we have new area where local transmissions are occurring in Miami beach," Scott said.

Zika primarily spreads through bites from mosquitoes, but can also be sexually transmitted. Most people won't even know they have been infected by Zika because it often causes no symptoms at all or just mild symptoms.

For those who do have symptoms, the most common include fever, rash, joint or muscle pain, conjunctivitis – also known as pink eye – and a headache. The symptoms usually last just a few days to a week.

The real issue is for pregnant women who are at greatest risk because the virus can cause devastating birth defects such as microcephaly, where the baby's brain fails to develop normally.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now added South Beach to its travel warning, telling pregnant women to avoid the area after the new Zika transmissions were confirmed. The area encompasses a 1.5 square mile area from 8th Street to 28th Street from the Atlantic Ocean tot he intercostal in South Beach.

Miami is always a hot spot for New Yorkers looking to getaway and relax, but the $24 billion a year tourism business there could be shaken by this announcement, CBS2's Brian Conybeare reported.

"I wouldn't want to be down there as a native and I wouldn't want to be visiting down there as a tourist either," one traveler said.

But some said it wouldn't stop them from visiting the city that some call New York's sixth borough.

"I would still go to Miami Beach. I don't have concerns because I'm not planning on getting pregnant anytime soon," Diane Grossman said.

Ralph Paniagua was headed to Miami on Friday night, but was afraid that others wouldn't do the same.

"Without a doubt. My family's there, my grandchildren are there, you know we have to be careful. Everybody's got to protect themselves," he said, "If it's something that's really hitting Miami heavy, people are going to find somewhere else to go."

Miami Dade County is already aggressively spraying for mosquitoes in the Wynwood Arts district where dozens of local infections were previously reported.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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