How Zika spreads (and who’s to blame)
Florida health officials confirmed two new Zika infections in Miami-Dade on Tuesday, raising the statewide total to 109 people who have contracted the virus this year, more than any state.
In Miami-Dade, where most of Florida’s Zika cases have been reported, 44 people have been infected with the virus, said the state health department, but the disease has not been transmitted locally by mosquito bites. Broward County has reported 15 cases of Zika.
With South Florida's rainy season approaching and the numbers of mosquitoes that transmit the disease expected to rise — along with increases in international travel from Zika-affected areas, such as Brazil, which will host the Summer Olympics — Miami-Dade and state officials are preparing to combat the spread of the infectious disease.
Gov. Rick Scott, who is expected to travel to Washington, D.C., this week to lobby federal officials for a plan to combat Zika, discussed preparedness efforts on Tuesday with several state officials, including Celeste Philip, a physician and interim state surgeon general; Wayne Gale, director of the Lee County Mosquito Control District; and Bryan Koon, director of the state’s Division of Emergency Management.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, urged Congress to act on President Barack Obama’s request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus.
Rubio, who made his comments during an interview with CNN, said, “I’m disturbed that members of my own party are standing in the way of fully funding a response to what’s an emerging public health crisis.”
Working with the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Public Health Laboratories, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on Tuesday to suggest that state health officials use blood and urine tests for identifying acute Zika virus disease.
The new guidance comes after the Florida health department collected multiple specimen types — saliva, blood and urine — from persons with suspected Zika infections and discovered that urine samples tested positive for the virus more often than the other specimens did.
Of the cases confirmed in Florida, seven are pregnant women, who are considered to be at greatest risk from the Zika virus because of an established link between the virus and congenital microcephaly, a condition in which a newborn’s head is smaller than expected, which can lead to developmental issues.
The CDC has reported 472 Zika virus infections in the continental United States as of May 4.
There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus, which is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito.
Zika virus infections in Florida as of May 10
Number of Cases
Cases involving pregnant women*
* Counties of pregnant women are not disclosed.
Source: Florida Department of Health