LOCAL 10 (WPLG ABC MIAMI)
Florida officials meet to discuss Zika virus
Not enough mosquito traps, funding, officials say
By Glenna Milberg
Zika virus fears keep growing in South Florida, along with the number of infected patients in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Local members of congress met Monday to talk about what's being done to stop the spread of the mosquito-borne virus.
All of the officials agreed there are several factors affecting what's being done, but mostly, at the moment, it's about money.
"Allowing this to become political, and robbing Peter to pay Paul, is going to result in more babies with birth defects, more people contracting Zika, more trouble than we can possibly wrap our mind around right now," Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said.
She convened Monday's roundtable with a who's who in public health and mosquito control, and airport and airline reps. On the right was Health and Human Services And FDA representatives reporting in from the World Health Organization meeting in Geneva. On the left was Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Zika point man.
"We have not seen something like this in 50 years, where a virus has been associated with these terrible birth defects that we're seeing," Dr. Michael Beach, with the CDC, said.
Consensus was that the skill to control the Aegis Aegypti mosquito, to detect and control the virus, to educate communities in prevention, that's all there, but adequate funding to do so is not. It's stuck in a skeptical partisan Congress.
"We presently have only have about half (the) traps we need to collect them," Florida Keys Mosquito Control director Michael Doyle said. "People are getting infected before we know that mosquitoes are being infected, so we have to operate, unfortunately, human surveillance until we have a faster way."
Marie Florent-Carre "Eighty percent of patients infected by the Zika virus don't have symptoms. That's pretty significant, because there has not been any reports local transmission without travel, and therefore, this is where the prevention aspect is important," Marie Florent-Carre, with NSU public health, said.