DOH: Pinellas Zika case possibly from outside the area

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 6:11 AM EDT

The first non-travel related case of the Zika virus in Pinellas County has been confirmed, but the patient may not have contracted the illness in the county.

Local leaders announced the finding on Tuesday. The Pinellas case was one of five new cases in the state.

As of now, officials don't believe local mosquitoes are infecting people in Pinellas  -- or anywhere else in the Bay area.

"The new case that we are announcing in Pinellas will take our epidemiologists some time to get a good history, to understand potential exposures at home, at the workplace, at other recreational events that may have been outdoors," explained Florida's Surgeon General, Dr. Celeste Philip.

According to the State Department of Health, a travel-related case means the person acquired Zika virus outside of Florida. A non-travel related case means the person acquired the virus locally in Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott met with the Florida Department of Health, Pinellas Department of Health, Pinellas Mosquito Control and other officials.

“In Pinellas County, the Department of Health and Pinellas County Mosquito Control are already working together and have begun aggressive spraying and mosquito abatement efforts," said Scott. "Any pregnant woman who would like to receive a free Zika test or a Zika prevention kit should contact the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County.”

The DOH has begun door-to-door outreach and mosquito sampling in Pinellas County. Also, health departments in counties with active cases, which include Miami-Dade and now Pinellas, are offering free Zika tests to pregnant women as well as prevention kits that include repellent.

Investigators at the DOH still believes ongoing active transmission is only taking place within the small identified areas in Wynwood and Miami Beach in Miami-Dade County. More details will be announced when the Pinellas County investigation concludes.

"As of yesterday," explained Scott, "the Commissioner of Agriculture said we've tested 32,000 mosquitoes and we have not found an active case of Zika yet or a mosquito with Zika yet."

Scott also announced following further testing and no evidence of continued active transmission, the health department is able to clear nearly the entire perimeter of the area in Wynwood.

Dr. Randy Shuck said one of the challenges is that Zika can feel like the flu so it can be hard to identify.

"The easiest thought is that if you have the flu in the summer months, may not be the flu,” he said. “If you look at symptom-wise, it has a lot of similarities, a lot of them are fever is low-grade, I don't feel right, have some achy bones but it's a viral illness so the majority of the people will get mild symptoms, goes away without any problems."

However, he says when people don't know they're carriers, they could infect other people through activities like sex.

So health officials are urging people with flu-like symptoms who think they might have been exposed to the virus to get tested, just to be on the safe side.