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Here's what the Florida Zika virus outbreak could mean for MN mosquitoes

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Four cases of the Zika virus in Florida may have been caused by local mosquitoes, the state's health department says.

Until today, the Zika virus, which causes severe birth defects and can make adults seriously ill, was only found in Americans who traveled to other countries where Zika was present.

"Florida has become the first state in our country to have a local transmission of the Zika virus," Florida Governor Rick Scott said Friday.

But other than Florida-bound travelers, does this increase the risk of Zika in Minnesota?

The species in particular that spread to four people already in the Miami-Dade and Broward counties is the Aedes aegypti, which the CDC says are the main type of mosquito known to spread disease.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes prefer to feed on people, which makes them more likely to spread the Zika virus more than any other type of mosquito. This species prefers more tropical climates and lives predominately in the southern United States.

The second type of mosquito that can spread Zika is the Aedes albopictus, and can live in the majority of the country, including the Midwest.

The CDC has a map that shows the areas where the two breeds of mosquitoes are capable of living based on climate conditions:

The CDC clarified the map does not show the likelihood that these mosquitoes will spread viruses, the number or the exact locations of the mosquitoes.

Another map shows where the Aedes albopictus breed has been reported over the last two decades and paints a more accurate picture:

Because this breed of mosquito feeds on animals as well as people, they are less likely to spread disease, the CDC notes.

The CDC does list guidelines for mosquito bite prevention, which include:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning and use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents, which are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women when used as directed.

The agency says women who are pregnant should strictly follow the prevention guidelines.

For more on the Zika virus, check out the Minnesota Department of Health's website here.

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