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Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Urges Pregnant Women To Avoid Miami

State Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Raul Pino
State Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Raul Pino Photo Credit: File

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Travelers from Connecticut and across the country were warned Tuesday about the danger of possible Zika virus infection in Miami even as the state was awarded another grant related to the mosquito-borne disease.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday added an area north of downtown Miami to its travel warning for Zika-affected areas, Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino said Tuesday.

“Based on confirmation by the State of Florida and the CDC of several cases of locally transmitted Zika virus, the CDC is advising pregnant women, women who plan to become pregnant and their sexual partners to avoid one area of Miami just north of the city’s downtown," Pino said.

"I encourage Connecticut women who are or plan to become pregnant and their partners to avoid this neighborhood, should they be traveling to Miami. While Zika virus causes only mild symptoms in most people, it can have devastating, lifelong consequences for unborn children."

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that made its way to the North American continent this year.

The mosquito suspected of transmitting Zika in this Miami neighborhood is not found in Connecticut, Pino said. However, another mosquito capable of transmitting Zika, the Asian Tiger Mosquito, has been trapped in several Connecticut towns this summer.

"While none of these mosquitoes have tested positive for Zika thus far, I encourage Connecticut residents to help control mosquito populations by removing standing water outside homes and eliminating trash, debris and other materials that can collect water and provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes," Pino said.

To date, 45 Connecticut residents, including three pregnant women, have tested positive for Zika virus. All the cases occurred as a result of travel to Zika-affected countries or territories in the Caribbean and Central and South America.

DPH "will remain vigilant in our efforts to protect Connecticut residents from Zika virus," he said.

Also Tuesday, the CDC awarded the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Birth Defects Registry a $400,000 grant to fight the Zika virus.

This new funding will be used to establish, enhance, and maintain information-gathering systems to rapidly detect microcephaly – a serious birth defect of the brain – and other central nervous system and adverse outcomes caused by Zika virus infection, Pino said.

It will also help Connecticut ensure that affected infants and their families are referred to appropriate health and social services, in addition to enabling Connecticut to monitor over time the heath and developmental outcomes of children affected by Zika.

“There is so much we have yet to learn about Zika virus, but we do know that it can cause lifelong, devastating birth defects in some children born to mothers infected with Zika," Pino said. "This funding will allow us to track any cases of microcephaly, other birth defects, or other adverse consequences connected to Zika virus that may not present right at or shortly after birth and ensure that those children receive the services they will need throughout their lives.”

This new grant will closely collaborate with the $580,000 ELC grant announced Monday.

In that grant, DPH received $579,055 from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support and enhance the state’s efforts to protect Connecticut residents from Zika virus. It will also monitor serious birth defects, such as microcephaly, that can be caused by Zika virus.

A portion of this funding will be used by DPH and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station to continue laboratory testing and enhanced mosquito surveillance in the state.

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