The Zika virus has been identified in Miami Beach, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, the Miami Herald reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with discussions between state and local health officials.
The discovery opens a new front in the battle against the mosquito-borne virus, which has spread to more than 50 countries and territories since an outbreak began last year in Brazil.
The Miami Herald cited a written statement by City Manager Jimmy Morales saying the city is in constant communication with the health department about the most effective approach to mosquito control.
As of Aug. 17, there were 33 cases of non-travel-related infections in the state. To date the infections have been mostly contained within a small area in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami.
The prospect of it spreading to the tourism-dependent Miami Beach area is likely to further elevate concerns among health and tourism officials.
Last year, some 15.5 million people spent at least one night in Greater Miami and the Beaches, generating nearly $24.4 billion in direct expenditures, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. More than 48 percent of all visitors stayed in Miami Beach.