Locally Acquired Zika Cases Climb To 21 Amid Prevention Measures

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Mosquito Control Crews got to work early on spraying and continuing the Zika battle in the streets of Wynwood.

“The odds of catching Zika in Miami-Dade County are extremely low,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez Tuesday morning at a major Zika meeting with county commissioners.

Commissioners got briefed on the Zika campaign status but by Tuesday afternoon four more cases of locally acquired cases were reported meaning the tally was now up to 21 cases. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) believes all the cases are linked to the Wynwood area of Miami.

“I did not know that,” said Lisa D’Orciz.

CBS4’s Hank Tester asked, “Are you bothered by that?”

“Nah. I be blessed. No worries,” responded D’Orciz.

“I have not seen that many mosquitoes and I bought mosquito spray,” said Yoko Kono.

“Four more new cases? Yes. I am still here but I will not be here at night. Just in case the mosquitoes come out,” said Denise Pagan.

Zika 101: Prevent Spread By Protecting Yourself

Meanwhile, the county and state health department are pulling out all the stops to combat the mosquito that is known as “the cockroach of mosquitoes.”

“The fact that we have reduced the mosquitoes by 96% and if we continue to have caution and have preventive measures, then it will be safe,” said Gimenez.

County commissioners were told the process will take a long time and pregnant women will continue to be advised not to travel into Wynwood.

A senior official from the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) made the following statement: In Miami-Dade County you are more likely to be killed in a car wreck than get Zika.

But something we’re not hearing a lot of leaders talk about is the economic impact this Zika scare could have – not only on Miami-Dade County but the state of Florida.

“It does have an impact,” says Carolin Lusby with FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism.

She says, “People do change their travel plans and that there is an economic impact from perceptions of risks in certain areas.”

Lusby says it will be a few months before we know how many tourism dollars we’re losing.

“We are seeing some cancellations in hotels and specific hotel tour operators are seeing changes already.”

The convention and visitors Bureau is desperately trying to get the message out that Miami is open for business. They know that millions and possibly billions of dollars are at stake.  Just take the H1N1 scare in Mexico.

“We saw a decline of 1 million tourists equal to $2 billion in lost income for Mexico,” Lusby said.

And although the Zika threat is contained to Wynwood, she says it could cause a problem for the entire state.

“There is a generalization effect. Most tourist don’t understand that Miami Dade might be different than Orlando, especially if you’re coming from overseas. It’s Florida as a destination,” Lusby said.

The tourism officials have promised to directly help the merchants of Wynwood who have seen revenues plummet and locals and tourist shy away.

Click here for more information on the Zika virus or here for more Zika-related stories.

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