Officials from the Florida Department of Agriculture have found three Zika-positive mosquito samples in Miami Beach.
This is the first time mosquitoes with the virus have been found in the continental United States. Mosquitoes are one of the main modes of transmission for the Zika virus, which can cause severe birth defects in infants of women who were infected during pregnancy.
The positive samples were announced in a press release from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has detected Zika in three mosquito samples from a small area in Miami Beach. The mosquitoes from Miami Beach that tested positive for Zika are from an area where increased trapping and intensified mosquito control measures are occurring due to the investigation of local transmission led by the Florida Department of Health. Ninety-five additional samples have been submitted by Miami-Dade County after the date of the positive submission, and the mosquitoes have tested negative for Zika.
"This find is disappointing, but not surprising. Florida is among the best in the nation when it comes to mosquito surveillance and control, and this detection enables us to continue to effectively target our resources. Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami Beach and state and federal partners will continue to work aggressively to prevent the spread of Zika,” stated Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.
One of the three positive samples was discovered at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Officials declined to identify where the other two samples were found, citing concerns over the privacy of the people nearby.
“The message here remains the same: We need to drain and cover,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez at a press conference about the findings. He reiterated that pregnant women should cover up and people should use protection to keep from spreading the virus sexually.
The city of Miami Beach continues to spray larvicide and insecticide. And it’s removing all bromeliads from public places because the plants make excellent breeding sites.
“This is the cockroach of mosquitoes. It will find its way somehow to breed,” said Gimenez.
While the recommendations haven’t changed, the positive samples mean the virus may be more entrenched than if it were just being spread from infected travelers.
“It’s an indication that supports there’s virus in the population of mosquitoes here,” said Dr. Mario Perez, who works with Florida International University and is an expert in the mosquito that transmits Zika.
A second batch of mosquito traps from Miami Beach is currently being tested for more evidence of Zika virus.