Florida health officials on Friday reported one new case of local Zika infection — raising to 16 the number of people who have acquired the disease in South Florida since June — as more aerial spraying for mosquitoes was scheduled for the weekend over Wynwood.
The new infection occurred within a one-square-mile zone identified as the nation’s first area with active Zika transmission by local mosquitoes, according to the Florida Department of Health, which added that the person infected was a “close contact” of one of the original cases first announced on July 19.
Florida health officials also reported 13 new travel-related Zika cases across five counties Friday, bringing the statewide total to 422 people who have contracted the virus this year, including 55 pregnant women, who are at greatest risk because Zika can cause severe birth defects and neurological disorders.
Federal health officials visiting Wynwood this week said they expected to find additional local Zika cases inside of a 500-square-foot area — about the size of a small apartment — at the center of the designated zone. But they do not expect Zika to continue spreading in other areas, despite one local infection under investigation in Southwest Miami-Dade.
“Nine out of 10 times, it stops with just one or two other people. It’s a dead end for the Zika virus,” Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday while visiting Miami. “One out of 10 times, you have something like what’s happening in Wynwood now.”
After a first round of aerial spraying of a pesticide called Naled over the Wynwood area Thursday was declared a success at knocking down large numbers of Zika mosquitoes, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Friday that aerial spraying would resume over the weekend if weather permits.
“We’re going to continue that for three more cycles,” he said, “in a 10-square-mile area for adult [mosquitoes] and a two-square-mile area for larvae.” Spraying is scheduled for larvae Saturday, and for adult mosquitoes Sunday.
Gimenez announced the additional rounds of aerial spraying as he met with a group of municipal mayors, including Miami’s Tomás Regalado, and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who called on Congress to reconvene from a summer recess and approve an emergency spending bill to fight the Zika virus. Congress recessed in July for a seven-week break without adopting a Zika funding package, which has been under debate since February when President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency funding to help states combat the infectious disease.
“The long and short of this is the CDC and the [National Institutes of Health], they’re running out of money,” said Nelson, who acknowledged that he wanted to put pressure on Republican Congressional leaders, whom he accused of adding “political poison pills” to a $1.1 billion spending plan adopted by the Senate in July.
In Tallahassee, Florida Gov. Rick Scott also called on the federal government to send additional funding to the state to combat Zika virus.
“This is a national and international issue,” Scott said on a conference call with state legislators. “This is not just going to impact Florida. It’s going to impact our entire country. So we need to have more support from the federal government.”
Florida has received more than $8 million in Zika-specific funding from the CDC, and Sarah Revell, a spokeswoman for the state health department, said those federal dollars — plus another $26.2 million in state funds allocated by Scott for Zika preparedness in June — have begun to flow to counties to pay for Zika prevention and test kits, supplies such as insect repellent, and additional mosquito control efforts.
“We are prioritizing the use of those [CDC] dollars before we begin spending large amounts of state general revenue,” Revell said.
To date, though, Florida’s health department has sent only about $1.9 million to all affected counties for Zika preparedness and response. Counties have been receiving funds in monthly installments since about May.
Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
Miami-Dade, which has the most Zika cases in the state with 104 travel-related cases and 14 locally acquired infections, has received about $316,000. Broward, which has reported 55 travel-related Zika infections and two locally acquired cases, has received $221,000 from the state’s health department to combat the virus.
Funding for each county is determined by a formula that accounts for geographic risk of having the mosquito species most likely to transmit Zika, Aedes aegypti, the total number of confirmed or suspected cases, population and previous mosquito-borne diseases.
Based on those factors, Revell said Miami-Dade is scheduled to receive an additional $740,000 in Zika funding through December, though on Friday, Alina Hudak, deputy mayor, said she was not aware of the exact amount. County and state officials have been meeting to review needs, and Hudak said, “It’s all evolving.”
Gimenez, the Miami-Dade mayor, said the county has spent more than its budgeted $1.6 million for mosquito control to hire additional workers — there are now up to 100 crews on the street — and conduct more aerial spraying.
“We have the funds that we need,” Gimenez said Friday, “but we’d like to get reimbursed for whatever it is that we’re doing. And we’ve been doing a lot.”
Florida funding for Zika by county
YTD $ Total (Calendar)
Alachua ( City of Gainesville)
Source: Florida Department of Health