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3 in Florida test positive for Zika virus

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health has confirmed three cases of Zika virus in Florida, including two in Miami-Dade County.

Media outlets report the health department said Tuesday that the three people contracted the mosquito-borne virus while visiting South America.

Health officials say the two cases in Miami-Dade County involve people who traveled to Colombia in December. The third case involves a Hillsborough County resident who traveled to Venezuela in December.

Health officials say the virus is quickly spreading through South America, Central America and the Caribbean. It may cause a fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis and could be dangerous for pregnant women or women of childbearing age.

While no cases have been contracted in Florida, health officials are warning everyone to be cautious of the disease.

Also, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending pregnant women who have recently traveled to areas where Zika virus is transmitted be screened for the mosquito-borne disease.

This applies to pregnant women who have traveled to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

Pregnant women with two or more symptoms should undergo a blood test for the virus.

Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes (conjunctivitis). But the CDC estimates 80 percent of people infected with the virus have no symptoms, which is why pregnant women without symptoms should be given an ultrasound to check their developing fetus for microcephaly or intracranial calcifications. If an abnormality is detected, a follow-up blood test should be performed.

Microcephaly is a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads, causing severe developmental issues and sometimes death.