The Zika virus has been transmitted from mosquito to human for the first time on United State soil, according to Florida Governor Rick Scott. He confirmed four cases under investigation in his state were not brought in from outside the country.

The Zika virus envelope model.
Image credits Manuel Almagro Rivas / Wikimedia.

These cases are “the result of local transmission” in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and are “likely mosquito-borne” the Florida Department of Health announced. This would mark the first time Zika has been transmitter by mosquito bite in the U.S. Should the virus get a foothold in southern Florida, containing it might become difficult, if not impossible.

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However, health officials haven’t yet ruled out the possibility that the virus has spread by sexual contact and have yet to locate the carrier mosquitoes.

“If transmitted by mosquito, this would be the first instance in the United States”

The FDA put a hold on blood donations in both counties until proper screening protocols can be set in place, and has blood donors in other areas who have visited the two counties screened to prevent the virus from contaminating blood banks.

Since the Zika outbreak began in Brazil in April 2015, the virus has spread throughout large areas of Latin and Central America with tragic consequences. At best, it can cause mild symptoms such as fever, joint pain, and rashes. Zika however has also been linked to Guillain–Barré syndrome, a severe neurological disorder that can lead to paralysis and death.

It can cause infected mothers to give birth to offspring with microcephaly, a deadly condition that affects the child’s brain development, The CDC has issued warnings to pregnant women traveling in regions where the outbreak is currently ongoing. In the US, babies were born with birth defects due to  mothers who had traveled to Zika-affected countries contacting the virus.