Money that has helped states with Zika tracking and education may end by this summer, putting at risk efforts to better understand the mostly mosquito-borne virus and the devastating birth defects associated with it.
A Senate panel approved a bill that authorizes an additional $100 million in grant funding to fight the mosquito-carrying Zika virus. The bill could now be voted on by the full Senate before summer begins, but only if Congress doesn’t repeat last year’s delay that saw the money tied up by political wrangling for months.
The money approved Tuesday would fund local mosquito-control efforts, centers that test for the virus and research into improving mosquito-control programs.
As the rainy season returns to South Florida and the fight against Zika gears up, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District Tuesday began a first-in-Florida trial of a control method that uses bacteria to reduce mosquito populations.
The district will release 20,000 male mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria twice a week for the next 12 weeks. The releases will take place in a 10-acre test site on Stock Island, and mosquito traps there will be compared with a similar-sized control area nearby (but separated by a buffer).
U.S. health officials have begun enrolling volunteers for critical next-stage testing of an experimental vaccine to protect against Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that can cause devastating birth defects in pregnant women.
Back in 2015, Brazil reported a horrific a surge in birth defects. Thousands of babies were born with brain damage and abnormally small heads, a condition called microcephaly.
Scientists quickly concluded the Zika virus was the culprit. So when Zika returned last year during Brazil's summer months of December, January and February — when mosquitoes are most active — health officials expected another surge in microcephaly cases.
With the rainy season approaching and mosquitoes breeding at this time of year, Gov. Rick Scott and community leaders urged residents to remain aware and take necessary precautions against mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus.
At a community roundtable on Monday at the Department of Health in Miami, the governor stressed the importance of residents’ actions to help prevent Zika-related infections.
A small group of researchers at Florida Atlantic University is developing a small device that could help detect the Zika virus within just a few minutes and at a very low cost that could be available for use as early as next summer.
Florida has the highest number of Zika-related cases--with Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County being among the most affected. The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention listed 5,040 virus cases in the United States in the last two years and 1,069 were in Florida. The majority of the cases reported were travel-related.
Florida has not had any locally transmitted cases of Zika so far in 2017. And the number of travel-related cases has fallen drastically in the dry season.
But tests of new mosquito-fighting methods are still moving forward in the Florida Keys.
The first U.S. trial of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — the kind that carries Zika and dengue fever — is still on track for the Keys, just not on Key Haven. That's the island that Oxitec, the company that makes the genetically modified mosquito, chose for its test site.
Is Florida really at the bottom of the pack of states when it comes to paying for mental health care? And was Miami-Dade the first place to declare itself free of the Zika virus? WUSF's gets to the bottom of those claims with Allison Graves of PolitiFact Florida.
University of Miami doctors have published a case study about the first locally transmitted case of Zika in the United States. The patient was a 23-year-old pregnant women whose symptoms included a fever, joint pain and a rash. Her baby tested negative for the virus.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott is saying the federal government is shortchanging the state when it comes to doling out money to fight the transmission of the Zika virus. WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Katie Sanders of PolitiFact Florida to see if it's true.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are granting a team of Florida researchers $10 million to research Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases. University of Florida scientists will lead the regional research center, in collaboration with teams from the University of Miami, Florida International University, and the University of South Florida.
One big question about the Zika virus has been how big a risk the virus might pose in the United States.
Studies earlier this year suggested that birth defects and other problems were mainly limited to babies born in some parts of Brazil.
A study out Tuesday provides a sense of the effects on women who were exposed while pregnant in other countries and then came to the United States. About 6 percent of those pregnancies resulted in defects in the fetus or baby.