TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – St. Johns County now has four travel-related cases of the Zika virus, the Florida Department of Health announced Wednesday.
The state added 19 travel-related cases of the Zika virus Wednesday, with 11 cases in Miami-Dade, four in Broward, one in Brevard, one in Monroe and one in Pasco, in addition to the St. Johns County case.
The total number of travel-related cases, which stem from people bringing the virus into the state from elsewhere, climbed to 596.
Besides the four cases in St. Johns County, there are also eight cases in Duval County, eight cases in Alachua County, three cases in Clay County and three cases in St. Johns County.
The total number of infections involving pregnant women climbed to 80. The DOH does not indicate the counties in which the women live.
The mosquito-borne Zika is particularly dangerous to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects.
The Department of Health reported no new locally transmitted cases, which involve people being infected by mosquitoes in Florida. The state has found a total of 56 local cases.
House members support modified mosquitoes to combat Zika
With the number of locally transmitted Zika cases continuing to climb, 61 members of the Florida House have signed a letter urging federal officials to allow the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to help combat the virus.
Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, and incoming Minority Leader Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, announced last week they would urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the federal Food & Drug Administration to approve use of the genetically engineered mosquitoes developed by the company Oxitec.
Mosquito-borne Zika, which emerged last year in South America and has spread to Florida, can cause severe birth defects.
The letter, delivered Tuesday to the federal agencies, was backed by a bipartisan majority of the 120-member state House.
"We ask you to stand by the people of Florida in our time of need and use your legal authority to grant us access to a new source of hope in the fight against the spread of this terrible virus," the letter said.
Information on Oxitec's website said the company's mosquitoes are genetically engineered so that their offspring die before adulthood.
The company's male mosquitoes, which do not bite or transmit diseases, are released to breed with wild female mosquitoes, and the offspring die, reducing the mosquito population, the website said.
The Florida Department of Health reported Tuesday that the state has had 56 cases of locally transmitted Zika.
The state also has 577 travel-related cases and 80 infections involving pregnant women.
Travel-related cases involve people being infected elsewhere and bringing the virus into the state