British tourists warned not to travel to Florida after two people from the UK contract the Zika virus while visiting

Two British tourists have contracted the Zika virus after travelling to Florida, it emerged last night.

Pregnant women have been advised to cancel all ‘non-essential’ travel to the American state to avoid the risk that their babies are born with deformities.

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The virus can cause babies to be born with small heads.

The identities of the two British citizens to have contracted the virus is not currently known and neither is their condition.

They caught the virus while travelling to the Miami-Dade County in the southeastern part of Florida, which has areas deemed ‘high risk’ for Zika.

A Public Health England report, published earlier this month, revealed that a total of 229 British travellers have caught the Zika virus since January 2016, although only two have contracted it in North America.

More than 1.5 million British tourists visit Florida each year.

Most of those who contracted the virus had previously visited the Caribbean or South and central America.

Zika is a mosquito-borne disease which causes relatively mild symptoms in adults – causing only a mild fever, joint pain and rashes.

However, thousands of babies who have contracted the virus while in the womb have been born with microcephaly, which causes them to be born with smaller heads and disabilities.

Tourists from the UK have also been asked to consider abstaining from unprotected sex throughout their trip and for eight weeks afterwards due to a small risk the virus can be spread through sexual transmission.

The Foreign Office has also said that sporadic cases of local transmission have also been reported in the Florida areas of Palm Beach county, Broward county and Pinellas county.

The risk of catching Zika in these areas and the rest of Florida is described by the FCO as ‘moderate’, although a square mile of Miami called the Little River neighbourhood is described as ‘high risk’ for the Zika virus.

Zika does not exist naturally in the UK as the mosquitoes which belong to the genus Aedes – currently shown to transmit Zika – do not live in the UK.

Last month, following the updated health guidelines, British tour operators Thomas Cook, Thomson and First Choice announced that they would grant free Florida holiday cancellations or amendments for pregnant tourists with trips booked up until December 31.

British Airways said pregnant women could change any destination for free while Virgin Holidays offered its customers full refunds.

Some of those travel firms slashed their prices for package holidays to Florida and offered travel discounts of more than 40 per cent on some bookings.

One Thomas Cook deal offered 14 nights in Florida for two adults with flights and car hire for £1,080, a price drop of 42 per cent.

Last night the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Public Health England said that they were unable to comment.

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