People, Travel

Zika Virus Confirmed at Miami Beach

Zika Virus Confirmed at Miami Beach Zika Virus Confirmed at Miami Beach

The Zika virus has been identified in Miami Beach, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, the Miami Herald reports, citing people familiar with discussions between state and local health officials.

The discovery opens a new front in the battle against the mosquito-borne virus, which has spread to more than 50 countries and territories since an outbreak began last year in Brazil.

Florida state health officials were not immediately available to comment on the report. Neither were city officials in Miami Beach.

The report cited a written statement by City Manager Jimmy Morales saying the city was in constant communication with the health department about the most effective approach to mosquito control.

On Thursday, Miami Beach public works officials and code compliance officers spread out to inspect neighborhoods for mosquito breeding sites.

As of August 17, there were 33 cases of non-travel-related infections in the state. To date, the infections have been mostly contained within a small area in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, according to Yahoo Australia.

The prospect of it spreading to the tourism-dependent Miami Beach area is likely to further elevate concerns among health and tourism officials.

Last year, some 15.5 million people spent at least one night in Greater Miami and the Beaches, generating nearly $24.4 billion in direct expenditures, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

More than 48% of all visitors stayed in Miami Beach.

The Zika virus has been linked to more than 1,700 cases of microcephaly in Brazil, a potentially severe birth defect that can cause infants to be born with undersize heads and lead to developmental problems.