THE HILL — Florida health officials may have identified the first case of the Zika virus spread by a mosquito in a U.S. state.
The Florida Department of Health said in a statement late Tuesday that officials are investigating a “possible non-travel related case” of the virus in Miami-Dade County. The county is one of the most southern parts of the U.S.
The health department did not specify whether the new Zika case could have been spread by sexual contact, blood transfusion or any of the other known ways that the virus can be transmitted. A spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
If confirmed, it would mark the first time that mosquitoes have spread Zika in the continental U.S., marking a major turning point in the nation’s attempt to prevent an outbreak of the virus.
More than 300 people in Florida, including 43 pregnant women, have reported cases of Zika, which can cause birth defects.
Florida officials are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch an epidemiological study, according to the statement.
The state did not immediately issue any new guidelines for the Zika virus, though it underscored the importance of avoiding contact with mosquitoes, especially for pregnant women.