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Infectious Disease Expert Offers Insight Into Zika Investigation

Zika virus is spread primarily by mosquitoes.
Zika virus is spread primarily by mosquitoes.

Florida health department officials have been tight-lipped about the investigation into a possible locally-transmitted case of Zika virus in Miami-Dade County.

The Florida Department of Health officials said the case currently under investigation is not travel-related, but they haven’t gone into detail about what’s involved in the investigation itself.

But Dr. Aileen Marty saidthere are some basic principles involved in an epidemiological study in a case like this. Marty is a professor of infectious disease with Florida International University’s medical school.

She said once a person has been identified with a Zika infection, public health investigators will try to answer questions that may help chart the course of the virus:

“Who the person has been around, where the person lives, where the person has been, where that person could potentially have been exposed to mosquitoes, and any individuals that are close contacts of this individual that may have traveled and may have brought Zika to mosquitoes where he lives or directly to this individual,” Marty said.

The public health response may differ if the person caught the virus from a mosquito or from sexual contact with another infected person.

And Marty said there’s another hunt for answers happening while the patient’s history is being tracked down.

“The other part of the investigation is also to go ahead and send people who are experts on mosquitoes to the area, capture mosquitoes, and inspect and see whether they can capture mosquitoes that have any evidence of having Zika infection in them,” Marty said.

Miami-Dade County health department officials hope to have another update on the investigation by Friday or Monday.