Zika threat knocking on Florida's door

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Washington, DC, May 17, 2016 | comments

CBS NEWS

Zika threat knocking on Florida's door

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- The Senate could vote Tuesday on providing just over a billion dollars to fight the Zika virus. Some of the money would fund vaccine development.

More than 500 travel-related cases of Zika have been reported in the U.S., and the number could spike this summer.

Mosquito controllers say the Zika threat is at Florida's doorstep, reports CBS News correspondent David Begnaud. A few infected mosquitoes can cause a large outbreak. In Broward County, they're getting 500 requests for mosquito spraying every day -- 10 times the normal amount.

"When it rains, that fills up, mosquitoes grow and in four or five days adults will be flying around," said Michael Doyle, director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.

In the U.S. mainland, Florida is the front line in the Zika fight. More than 100 cases have been reported, more than any other state.

"You're not gonna get Zika in the woods while you're hunting or at the lake while you're on your boat. You might get it at your front door," Begnaud said.

"That's exactly right. While you're standing next to your car to go on your hunting trip or to the beach or to the park, that's when the mosquito will fly up and bite you in the ankle. ... It's not in those typical places that we as Floridians think of as mosquito-biting territory," Doyle said.

Doyle suspects Zika cases will rise as summer approaches. As of now, all Florida Zika patients contracted the virus from travel-related exposure.

In February, the White House asked for approximately $1.9 billion in emergency funding. Congress is debating it.

"We need to deal with this seriously," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said. "We're going to spend a lot more money if we don't deal with this on the front end. If this is a serious outbreak, it's not going to cost $1.9 billion. It could cost $4 billion or $5 billion."

Republican Hal Rogers, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, is a critic.

"The request they sent us would allow the $1.9 billion to be used for anything in the government. It's almost like a slush fund," Rogers said.

"Mosquitoes don't know whether their target is a Democrat or a Republican. Zika impacts all of us," Florida's Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said.

She says part of the money will be used to develop a Zika vaccine and raise awareness in a state that thrives on tourism.

"We are now going into the mosquito season ... every week the chances of having enough of them to start transmitting it from travelers to local people increases," Doyle said.

In Broward County, a cooler stuffed with dry ice is being used to kill the mosquito that carries Zika by emitting CO2. It flows through a tube and out of vents. Mosquitoes love CO2, so they fly to it and get trapped. Officials say this is the most effective tool they have. There are nearly 2 million people living there, but right now, there are only eight coolers.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/zika-virus-threat-at-florida-doorstep-senate-vote-1-9-billion-emergency-funding/

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