Florida’s first cases of locally contracted Zika virus draw focus of state officials

The aedes aegypti mosquito, common in Florida, carries the Zika virus
The aedes aegypti mosquito, common in Florida, carries the Zika virus

The first four cases of mosquito-borne Zika virus in the continental U.S. being found in Miami-Dade and Broward counties drew the focus Friday of state leaders.

Gov. Rick Scott, who earlier steered $26.2 million in state funds to help counties both fight and prepare for a widening Zika outbreak, was among the first to weigh in.

“Following today’s news, I directed the Department of Health to immediately begin contracting with commercial pest control companies to increase spraying and mosquito abatement efforts in the impacted area,” Scott said.

“We know from our experience with successfully dealing with other mosquito-borne viruses in our state that through constant surveillance and immediate action that we will protect our families and visitors.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam also issued issued a statewide mosquito declaration, allowing aggressive mosquito control efforts within a 200-yard radius around the homes of the four patients.

“Floridians can do their part by draining standing water surrounding their homes, as it can serve as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that are capable of transmitting the virus,” Putnam added.

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, running for re-election, called on the Obama administration to take swift action.

“We are entering a critical phase of this crisis,” Rubio said.

“Local mosquito transmissions and increased travel to the U.S. from Zika-affected regions are a dangerous combination that could lead to an explosive increase in infections. We must act quickly to prevent the problem from reaching a tipping point in the mainland U.S. as it already has in Puerto Rico.

He added, “I urge the Obama Administration to use all the tools at its disposal to reprogram existing public health emergency funding in the short term to deal with Zika. As I have said time and time again, both parties in Congress need to get it together and approve funding to combat the Zika virus.”


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