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6 new travel-associated Zika cases reported in Florida

South Florida prime breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying Zika virus

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – South Florida health officials say the area is a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. Meanwhile, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that six new travel-related cases of Zika have been reported in Florida.

There are 49 species that live around us, but this year, experts are especially concerned about the "aedes aegypti" or "yellow fever mosquito," which is the type known to carry viruses like dengue, chikungunya and now, Zika.

The yellow fever mosquitoes' presence is high across South Florida, although no known virus transmissions have been reported in the U.S.

The problem is rampant in South America, where pregnant women who were bitten by the bug are seeing birth defects in their children.

None of the most recent Zika cases in Florida involved pregnant women.

"Florida has many years of success in containing other mosquito-borne diseases and emerging health threats," State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong said. "Through these experiences, the department remains ready to protect residents and visitors from the Zika virus."

Because of South Florida's unusually wet winter this year, standing water is prevalent all across the area, and experts say it could make the mosquito population skyrocket.

"Mosquitoes need water to breed and it’s happening now. It's raining just about everyday," Chalmers Vazquez, with Miami-Dade Mosquito Control, said. "We're ready to respond to any emergency, as in our case, we're in the same situation as we were in the middle of the summer right now."

Proactive pesticide sprays are underway in both Broward and Miami-Dade counties, killing mosquito larva on the spot.

But it's equally important for you at home to drain any standing water outside on plants, bowls, bottles, garbage cans, and just about anything that can collect water.

"This mosquito is very cryptic in their behavior," Vazuqez said. "They breed in small containers and sometimes, for mosquito control inspectors, (it’s) kind of hard to find them."

According to the CDC, Zika fever illness generally shows up in the form of a rash, fever and joint pain.

Click here to view the CDC's travel notices for several countries were patients have been contracting the Zika virus.


About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.