One of the top US public health officials on Sunday warned that the mosquito-borne Zika virus could extend its reach across the US Gulf Coast after officials last week confirmed it as active in the popular tourist destination of Miami Beach.
The possibility of transmission in Gulf States such as Louisiana and Texas will likely fuel concerns that the virus, which has been shown to cause the severe birth defect known as microcephaly, could spread across the continental United States, even though officials have played down such an outcome.
Concern has mounted since confirmation that Zika has expanded into a second region of the tourist hub of Miami-Dade County in Florida. Miami's Wynwood arts neighborhood last month became the site of the first locally transmitted cases of Zika in the continental United States.
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