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It’s a first for the mainland U.S.
Mosquitoes from a small area in Miami Beach have tested positive for Zika, authorities in Florida said Thursday, marking the first time the virus has been found in insects in the mainland U.S.
The findings come as at least 47 cases of the mosquito-borne virus unrelated to travel have emerged in Florida during recent weeks. Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam called the discovery of the infected mosquitoes “disappointing, but not surprising.”
A total of three mosquito samples exhibited the virus, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
After state scientists discovered Zika in the insects, the samples were sent to the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Florida Gulf Coast University for confirmation. The department said it has tested more than 2,470 mosquito samples for Zika since May, consisting of more than 40,000 mosquitoes, and that the three samples are the first to test positive.
The state’s department of health has stressed that it believes active transmission of the virus by mosquitoes has only been taking place within limited parts of Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood and Miami Beach—both located in Miami-Dade County.
Spraying of insecticides and eliminating pools of water that can provide mosquitoes with breeding grounds are among the efforts that have been underway in Florida to combat the virus.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, last month announced the launch of a clinical trial for a possible Zika vaccine. While the virus generally does not cause severe symptoms in adults, it can cause severe birth defects.
Bill Lucia is a Reporter at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.