Friday, December 15, 2017
Health

Mosquito control officials: Even Zika suspicions are costly

MIAMI — Florida mosquito-control officials worry they won't be able to keep up their efforts to contain the bugs that carry Zika without federal funding, even as concern mounts that the first infection from a mosquito bite on the U.S. mainland is near.

On Thursday, fogging trucks drove through a Miami-Dade County neighborhood where health officials are investigating a Zika diagnosis that doesn't appear to be connected to travel outside the United States. Zika is usually spread by mosquitoes, but nearly all the cases in the United States have been contracted in other countries or through sex with someone who got it abroad.

The Florida Department of Health said Thursday another Zika case potentially not related to travel was being investigated in Broward County.

Meanwhile, the largest blood bank in Central Florida, OneBlood, said Thursday it is going to start screening for the Zika virus Aug. 1.

Dr. Rita Reik, OneBlood's chief medical officer, said in a statement that only a portion of collections will be screened. Hospitals and other facilities that want Zika-screened blood will have to make a request.

While Zika's appearance in mosquitoes in the U.S. mainland is likely, health officials don't expect widespread outbreaks like those seen in Latin America and the Caribbean. Zika is such a mild disease for most people that they don't even know they have it, but it has been found to lead to severe birth defects if a pregnant woman is infected.

The tropical mosquito that carries Zika, Aedes aegypti, likes to live near people and it doesn't travel far. More extensive use of air conditioning and window screens, wider use of bug repellent and broader mosquito-control measures will help control the spread of Zika by mosquitoes in the United States, experts think.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it has provided Florida $8 million in Zika-specific funding, and the White House has said the state can anticipate receiving another $5.6 million in Zika funding through a grant this week.

But the state hasn't been able to fill most of the $15 million in emergency Zika funding requests,

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