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Zika Response Team in Miami tracking children in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties

Posted: 6:45 PM, Aug 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-15 04:29:16-04
Zika Response Team in Miami tracking children in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties

The University of Miami's Zika Response Team is tracking 73 children across South Florida whose mothers contracted the Zika virus during pregnancy in 2016.

RELATED: More Zika coverage

A couple of those children are from Palm Beach County, more are from Broward, and the majority of the patients are from Miami-Dade County. 

In 2016, three locations in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties were declared "active Zika transmission zones." 

More than 400 expecting mothers in the state tested positive for Zika, either from local transmissions or from contracting the virus out of the country, but not all are being tracked by the Zika Response team.

Dr. Ivan Gonzalez is the Director of the University of Miami Zika Response Team and says they don't know where all of the women are located in the state. 

"Our goal is to capture as many as we can," said Dr. Ivan Gonzalez, Director of the Zika Response Team.

Now that the CDC revealed one in seven children whose mothers were Zika positive while pregnant still developed complications after birth.  

"There are a few kids that we could tell that they are a little bit delayed and we send them to the appropriate referrals so they can get a proper evaluation," said Dr. Gonzalez.

Dr. Gonzalez said out of 73 children, three cases involve congenital Zika syndrome symptoms which can include microcephaly which causes an abnormally small head, or irregularities in the eyes, issues hearing and problems with movement in the arms and legs. But, there are hundreds of mothers who have not continued follow-ups after testing positive for Zika while expecting. 

"The most difficult ones [to convince to do follow ups] are the ones where the baby is completely normal and they are developing right on target," added Dr. Gonzalez.

However, research recently published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that even if symptoms of the virus infection are not apparent at birth, 1 in 7 children with mothers exposed during pregnancy developed issues later. 

"We don't want to create a panic, we just want to create a sort of environment of knowledge and education," added Gonzalez.  

The Zika response team hopes Zika remains top of mind for pediatricians and that they encourage mothers who were exposed while pregnant to reach out to the team for routine follow-ups.