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MIAMI: Five new cases of Zika have been found in the tourist hotspot of Miami Beach, signaling that local transmission of a virus blamed for birth defects is spreading, Florida officials said Friday.

“This means we have a new area” of local transmission, Governor Rick Scott said at a press conference.

The Health Department confirmed that five individuals have been confirmed as cases of local Zika transmission in the Miami Beach area.

Florida now has 36 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus, which is typically spread by mosquitoes but also by sexual contact.

The size of zone in Miami Beach where active Zika transmission is occurring is just under 1.5 square miles (3.9 square kilometers).

Officials had previously said Zika was spreading in a one-square-mile zone north of downtown Miami called Wynwood, where more than two dozen people were believed to have been infected by mosquitoes carrying the virus.

Zika is particularly dangerous to pregnant women because it raises the risk of birth defects.

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