First Mosquito Transmitted Zika Cases “Likely” in Fla.
WASHINGTON – Citing reports that four cases of Zika virus in Florida were likely transmitted by mosquitoes, Congressman Vern Buchanan today called for all necessary federal resources to be immediately directed to Florida.
The announcement marks the first time Zika has been found to be transmitted via infected mosquitoes within the continental United States.
The Florida Department of Health today said they have gathered enough information as part of its ongoing investigation into non-travel related cases of Zika in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to conclude that “a high likelihood exists that four cases are the result of local transmission.” The agency believes that the local transmission is occurring in one small area in Miami-Dade County.
“This is exactly what the nation’s top disease fighters alerted Congress about for months,” Buchanan said. “It’s critical now that we immediately direct all necessary federal resources to this health crisis to protect the public. Millions of Floridians – and Americans at large – are at risk as the hot summer months roll on and mosquitoes continue to spread.”
The announcement arrives one day after the Food and Drug Administration requested that all blood centers in Miami-Dade and Broward counties immediately stop collections.
As of July 28, there are 381 confirmed Zika cases statewide, including 53 that involve pregnant women, according to the FDOH. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said across the U.S. there are 1,658 travel-related cases.
“Let’s be clear about the people that are most affected by this virus: pregnant mothers and their children,” Buchanan said. “We should be laser-focused on protecting the most vulnerable among us. Florida is ground zero for Zika.”
The FDOH is conducting door-to-door outreach about the Zika virus and sample collections are underway in all cases.
In July, Senate Democrats voted to block a must-pass Zika funding bill previously approved by the U.S. House. The Senate brought up the bill again in a last ditch effort before Congress went home, however the funding was again blocked. As a result, no congressional action will be taken on the Zika emergency funding until after Sept. 5.
Buchanan has pushed for full emergency funding for a swift Zika response and has hosted multiple public health experts in meetings and public events in Florida and Washington to talk about the virus. He also wrote a letter to House and Senate leadership urging the Zika conferees to provide the full amount of emergency funding requested by the Obama administration.
The Congressman was the first Republican in the U.S. House to support President Obama’s request for full funding to fight the Zika virus. The emergency funding would expand education, prevention, and mosquito control programs, improve diagnostics and testing, speed the development of a vaccine, and boost research into the complications of contracting the virus.