Concerned about exposure to the Zika virus?

A new Zika hot zone map was unveiled Tuesday by two Asheville firms that identifies areas where ecological conditions favor the mosquito that is the primary transmitter of the disease.

The map is based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Areas of North Carolina’s coast are identified as potential hot spots in the first version of the map.

Aso on Tuesday, the federal government awarded the state a $560,000 grant to help fight Zika.

The grant comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The funs are to be used to “establish, enhance, and maintain information-gathering systems to rapidly detect microcephaly–a serious birth defect of the brain–and other adverse outcomes caused by Zika virus infection,” the CDC said. Money also is to be used to support “affected infants” and their families.

“It is critical to identify infants affected by Zika so we can support them and their families,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a statement. “This CDC funding provides real-time data about the Zika epidemic as it unfolds in the United States and territories and will help those most devastated by this virus.”

(The CDC offers information about Zika at:

More than 1,650 cases of Zika have been reported in U.S. states. Nearly all have been the result of travel to a Zika-stricken country or sex with someone who was infected abroad, but now more than a dozen people have been infected in the U.S.

“The fast spreading nature of this virus and the potential impact on public health make it important for people to be aware of the risks in their neighborhood and take the necessary precautions,” said Marjorie McGuirk, president of CASE Consultants International, which developed the map along with FernLeaf Interactve.

The map, which can be viewed at, will be updated with new data as it becomes available, the companies said.

The data from NOAA focuses on the continental United States.

There is no vaccine against Zika, which can lead to birth defects in infants.

“This product is made possible by collaboration across disciplines. We bring together microbiological and epidemiological expertise, environmental data mining, GIS analytics, and cloud computing,” said Jeff Hicks, managing partner of FernLeaf Interactive, in announcing the map. “Our work is just beginning. As we learn more about this emerging threat, we will continue to refine our process.”

Zika warning in Miami

In a highly unusual travel warning on Tuesday, health officials advised pregnant women to avoid a part of Miami where mosquitoes are apparently transmitting Zika directly to humans.

Health officials last Friday announced that mosquitoes have apparently started spreading Zika on the U.S. mainland, citing four cases they strongly believe were caused by bites. Ten more cases were announced Monday, even though Florida authorities have yet to find any mosquitoes actually carrying the virus.

Of the 14 people infected, two are women and 12 are men. Eight patients showed symptoms of Zika, which can include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The others had no symptoms. The disease is often so mild that most people don’t know they are infected.

All 14 cases are thought to have occurred in Miami’s Wynwood arts district, a trendy, fast-gentrifying neighborhood of warehouses, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques.

Rosemary LeBranch was doing laundry in Wynwood when health officials came to her house a few days ago and took urine samples from her, her daughter and her father. Her father, Gabriel Jean, tested positive for Zika, she said Monday.

He had already spoken with a doctor and was advised to wear long shirts and pants outdoors.

“He said nothing hurts; he doesn’t have any pain. He doesn’t feel anything,” she said.

Learn more about the map at: