How Zika spreads (and who’s to blame)
With two new Zika infections confirmed on Wednesday, including one in Miami-Dade and one pregnant woman in an unidentified county, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a letter to President Obama calling for immediate federal action to help state and local officials combat spread of the virus.
Florida has confirmed 162 Zika infections this year, including 38 cases involving pregnant women regardless of whether they showed symptoms. Miami-Dade has reported the most cases, with 49 people affected this year. Broward has reported 17 cases.
As Hurricane Season opened on June 1, ushering in the summer heat, heavy rainfall and more mosquitoes, Scott’s letter to the president expressed his “profound disappointment” that Congress had not yet fully funded Obama’s emergency request for $1.9 billion to prepare a response to the Zika virus.
“Florida needs action from the federal government now,” Scott wrote.
In the three-page letter, Scott presented a list of the state’s most pressing needs, some of which he requested during a May 12 meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, including 5,000 Zika preparedness kits and mosquito control and surveillance equipment.
Scott’s letter included specific requests made by local government officials, including from the city of Miami, for resources to hire additional mosquito control workers and to purchase equipment, such as traps and insecticides.He also asked the Obama administration for a detailed plan by June 15 explaining how the president would like Florida officials to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on requesting response funds once the Zika virus becomes mosquito-borne in the state.
Miami-Dade officials already have launched a campaign to raise public awareness and to increase local enforcement authority to stamp out artificial mosquito breeding grounds on private property, such as pots, pans and tires filled with standing water.
Though no state has reported local transmission of the virus by mosquito bite, a baby born with Zika-related microcephaly remained hospitalized in New Jersey on Wednesday — the third such case in the nation. The baby girl’s mother had recently arrived from Honduras.
Zika poses the greatest risk to pregnant women and their unborn children because the virus attacks fetal brain tissue and can cause congenital microcephaly, a condition in which a newborn’s head is smaller than normal and can lead to developmental challenges later in life.
Of the cases confirmed in Florida, five people are still exhibiting symptoms, which include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes lsating seven to 10 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has reported 591 Zika infections in the continental United States as of May 25.
Zika infections in Florida as of June 1
Number of Cases
Total cases not involving pregnant women
Cases involving pregnant women regardless of symptoms*
* Counties of pregnant women are not disclosed
Source: Florida Department of Health