Palm Beach County Health Dept. closes investigation into first local Zika case

Continues working second case linked to Lake Worth
Posted at 6:40 PM, Aug 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-29 19:33:31-04

The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County announced it has closed the investigation into one of two cases of Zika believed to be acquired locally.

Dr. Alina Alonso said investigators determined the case from August 8 was a single case, and mosquitos did not transmit the disease in Palm Beach County.

Governor Rick Scott had previously said the patient in that case traveled to the Wynwood area of Miami, where mosquitos had been actively transmitting the disease. Dr. Alonso did not say where, specifically, the patient acquired Zika.

Investigators continue to study a second case of Zika in Palm Beach County. Last week, NewsChannel 5 confirmed a woman in Lake Worth acquired the virus.

Alonso said it could be weeks before investigators finish the investigation into that case.

“What some people don’t understand is that the testing for this is a little complicated,” she said. “We take more than one test. It’s not a positive, negative kind of thing, you have to put the whole history together, you have to put all the tests together, and then come up with your conclusion.”

At a roundtable discussion about Zika, Scott announced a new non-travel related Zika case from Miami Beach. That makes 43 locally acquired cases of Zika in Florida.

Scott stressed keeping Zika from spreading involves everyone in the state. With rain in the forecast, standing water can collect in birdbaths, old tires, and other places. Those containers make perfect breeding grounds for the type of mosquito that transmits Zika.

By dumping out standing water, you can eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“You can control your destiny,” the governor said. “These are your mosquitoes, you’re going to breed these mosquitoes, and your neighbors are going to breed them. So if you have no standing water in your area, then the odds are, you have a very low chance of getting Zika.”

Last week, representatives from the department of health visited a neighborhood in Lake Worth near where the latest Zika patient lives.

Alonso said teams stopped at more than 170 residences, and spoke face to face with people living at more than 80 of those properties. At each stop, representatives educated residents about Zika and provided free bug spray and larvicide.

Gaby Mendez said she was happy to hear from the Health Department. She now knows to be vigilant in keeping water from pooling around her garden.

“I have to put attention everyday; more when it’s raining. Putting the buckets so there’s no water on top,” Mendez said.

Alonso said the health department found mosquito larvae in standing water at 18 properties during its survey.