(USA Today) Both American athletes and sports fans have canceled plans to travel to Brazil for next week's Olympics for fear of contracting the Zika virus. Now the apparent spread of Zika to Florida, confirmed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott Friday, means that Americans could face the risk of becoming infected in their own backyards.
Scott announced that four Florida residents were likely infected with Zika, which can cause devastating birth defects, in a 1-square-mile area just north of downtown Miami. Although doctors have diagnosed 1,658 Zika cases in the continental U.S. and Hawaii, until now all the cases were related to travel and, in one case, a lab accident.
"This is a game changer," said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "I’m concerned that this is just the beginning."
Pregnant women, doctors and public officials need to take Zika seriously, Hotez said. The virus could be spreading undetected in other steamy areas of the southern U.S., few of which test mosquitoes for Zika.[Click the title, above, to post a comment.]