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Gov. Scott: 5 Zika Virus Cases Transmitted In Miami Beach

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Gov. Rick Scott gave details of five new cases of the Zika virus believed to have been transmitted by mosquitoes in a 20-block area of Miami Beach.

Three of those infected are from out of state, one of those was from Taiwan and has already returned.

State health officials Thursday reported two new locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus, and South Florida newspapers reported the virus was found in Miami Beach. The new incidents bring the total to 35 cases of the Zika virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in South Florida, according to the state Department of Health.

Scott announced at noon Friday that there's a new 1.5-square-mile zone in Miami Beach between 8th and 28th streets — the city's prime tourist area. 

"There is strong evidence that local transmission is occurring," a Miami-Dade Health Department spokeswoman said.

Scott said aggressive spraying in the newly identified area has already begun in the suspect area.

This is in addition to the 1-square-mile zone around the Wynwood neighborhood, north of downtown Miami. Mara Gambineri, a department spokeswoman, said the agency has active investigations of local transmissions of Zika in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

"While we are adding a second location, DOH is also able to continue reducing the zone in Wynwood. The ability to continue reducing that area where we believe local transmission is occurring shows that our efforts to aggressively spray for mosquitos and educate the public are working," Scott said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned pregnant women to avoid the Wynwood neighborhood because of the potential for a Zika infection, which can cause severe birth defects. Citing the new locally transmitted cases,

Scott called on the federal government to provide an additional 5,000 Zika antibody test kits and other resources to help fight the spread of the disease. Scott has directed the Department of Health and the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation to work with hotels, restaurants and other businesses in Miami-Dade on Zika prevention and education.

"Tourism is a driving force of Florida's economy and this industry has the full support of our state in the fight against the Zika virus," Scott said in a statement. "We will continue to work closely with our businesses and the tourism community to ensure their needs are met."

In addition to the 35 locally transmitted cases, the DOH announced 18 new cases of travel-related Zika, bringing those cases to a total of 479 in the state. There are an additional 63 cases involving pregnant women, for an overall total of 577 Zika cases in Florida.

The Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly, which causes unusually small heads and brain damage in children born to infected mothers. It is also linked to blindness, deafness, seizures and other congenital defects.