MIAMI (WSVN) - One day after Florida Gov. Rick Scott confirmed a new Zika hot zone in a small area in Miami’s Little River neighborhood, mosquito control employees went door to door to educate residents about how to avoid spreading or contracting the mosquito-borne virus.
The Florida Department of Health has identified five people in the new transmission zone, three women and two men, who were infected. Three of these patients reside in the area and the other two work nearby.
“We’re kind of surprised, and we’re doing what the city does whenever there is a case of Zika in the municipality,” said City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.
The street boundaries are Northwest 79th Street to the north, Northwest 63rd Street to the south, Northwest 10th Avenue to the west and North Miami Avenue to the east.
Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control employees were seen speaking with residents on the new Zika zone, Friday morning. “I knew it was coming sooner or later,” said Annie Wilson, a resident living in the new zone.
Crew members also helped dump standing water while providing new information on how to prevent mosquito breeding. “She told me to, where I got the tire, I have to move that,” said Wilson. “Because, you know, when it rains the water gets in that.”
“We’re deploying code compliance inspectors, garbage pickups, public works cleaning,” said Regalado.
This mixed residential and commercial area is about one square mile. “This is kind of frustrating because we owe information to the residents, and we just don’t have that information,” said Regalado.
Health officials said they had been examining this area for some time. They said they knew about four of the five new cases but had to wait for the tests before they could call it a hot zone.
So far, a total of 155 locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus have been discovered in Florida, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thursday’s announcement comes as officials continue their fight against the spread of the virus in a second hot zone, located in Miami Beach.
Scott had originally announced the Miami Beach Zika zone on Aug. 19. It was expanded on Sept. 16 and currently extends four and a half square miles, from Eighth Street to 63rd Street.
Officials said the Miami Beach area is responsible for more than 35 cases of the virus. They said they have seen a decrease in the number of mosquitoes found in traps.
News of the new zone is not sitting well with area residents. “We are worried, because it was in South Beach, but I didn’t know it was going to make it way down here,” said Rowena Jones. “That’s crazy. We’ve got to be real careful.”
When asked what precautions she’s going to take to avoid contracting the virus, Angela Villarreal replied, “Spray, no containers with water, doors closed, windows closed, anything you could do to keep safe.”
“I wouldn’t want to get it, catch no sickness or nothing like that, because there’s no telling what the outcome might be,” said Dayne Whittaker.
“It ended up in one area, and it’s bouncing, bouncing, bouncing,” said area resident Rayshard Knowles. “They need to cut it off.”
The first hot zone for locally transmitted cases of Zika in the continental U.S. was identified in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, in late July.
After weeks of spraying on the ground and in the air, health officials lifted the Zika zone in Wynwood, last month.
Unlike Wynwood, the Little River community is mostly residential. “Because we have many residents. We have many residential complexes, we have many parks, we have many schools, we have many churches,” said Regalado. “It’s a very dense area.”
City of Miami officials said it’s still too early to tell whether they will use the same strategy in the new Zika hot zone. “Something new that we’re going to be introducing is a product called Dynatrap, which is a non-chemical-based product that traps mosquitoes,” said Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon.
According to Miami-Dade County officials, daily ground spraying begins on Monday and will last through the end of November.
Miami Beach officials released their ground spraying schedule for this weekend. Saturday and Sunday, from midnight until 5:30 a.m., crews will be spraying from 29th to 69th streets, from the ocean to the bay. They will not be using the controversial chemical naled.
Meanwhile, the fight for Zika funding continues in Washington, D.C. Scott said it has been two weeks since Congress approved the request for more funds, but because of government red tape, Florida still has not received the money.
Earlier this week, Scott allocated $7 million to help Miami-Dade County fight Zika.
The mosquito-borne illness is especially dangerous for pregnant women and has been linked to serious birth defects. The CDC has issued a travel advisory for pregnant women to avoid the Zika hot Zones in Miami-Dade County.
If a mosquito carrying Zika does bite, it can take up to two weeks to cause symptoms like:
- skin rash
- joint pain
- conjunctivitis, which causes red, irritated eyes
The State Surgeon General has activated a 24-hour Zika hotline in Florida to answer questions and concerns. That number is 855-622-6735.
Pregnant women can receive a free test at the Health District Center, located at 1350 N.W. 14th St. in Miami. For more information, call 305-324-2400.
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