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3 Florida Residents Contract Zika Virus After Traveling To South America

All three cases are associated with travel to South America, where there has been a major outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus.

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Florida health officials confirmed on Tuesday that two people in Miami-Dade County and a third person in Hillsborough County have contracted the Zika virus.

All three cases are associated with travel to South America, where there has been a major outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus, starting in May 2015 in Brazil.

The Florida Department of Health said the two people from the Miami-Dade area had traveled to Colombia, and a resident of Hillsborough County visited Venezuela in December.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel warning Friday for pregnant women to avoid 14 regions in South and Central America — including Puerto Rico — because of the risk of contracting the Zika virus.

The virus has mild, flu-like symptoms for adults, but has been linked to microcephaly, or an abnormally small head, in about 3,500 babies in Brazil. People cannot spread the virus to one another, but can give it to a mosquito if they are bitten after infection. The mosquito can then infect other people.

The three cases in Florida are the first known cases of the Zika virus in the state that are related to the recent Brazilian outbreak. In Texas, another case was confirmed last week, after a patient who had traveled in Latin America tested positive for the virus. And in Hawaii, a baby was recently born with microcephaly, after the mother had traveled to Brazil during her pregnancy.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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