Gov. Rick Scott says Florida is first state with locally transmitted Zika cases
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Fear of Zika is at an all-time high after Governor Rick Scott announced the four cases in South Florida most likely stem from mosquitoes transmitting the virus locally.
Traps have been set up around the state to prevent further spread.
The Florida Health Department has not found a mosquito carrying the virus in the state, but other methods of transmission for the four people have been ruled out.
Gov. Rick Scott said, "This morning we learned that four people in our state have the Zika virus as a result of a mosquito bite. This means Florida has become the first state in the nation to have local transmission of the virus."
Dr. Sadie Ryan, UF Assistant Professor Medical Geography, said, "You can trap tons of mosquitoes and very few are actually the infected ones."
Researchers at UF's Entomology and Nemotoloagy Department have been working on getting a mosquito trap they invented on the market.
They said the trap being used by the health department does check the population of mosquitoes.
"We are then able to say okay in this area, the mosquito population does have the virus, so it's likely to transmit the disease here," said Dr. Roberto Pereira.
However, their new traps do more than that, they kill.
Dr. Pereira said, "The killing traps, the traps for actually controlling the population, they help by eliminating mosquitoes from the population."
These traps use insecticides to attract the mosquitoes carrying the virus.
They can even be used by a homeowner. "Use of repellants, using proper clothes, avoiding areas where you'll know mosquitoes are present is always a good idea. The other good thing to do is to make sure we're not breeding mosquitoes in our own backyard," he said.
Officials are reminding people that having stagnant water outside your home can breed mosquitoes, so it's important to keep track of the amount of water you use for your plants.
The four cases in Florida all took place in the same area, just north of Downtown Miami.
The people infected were not even showing symptoms.
Dr. Ryan said, "It's not as severe so you don't necessarily show up at a health center. That means it's going to be much more hard to track down where Zika is."
Dr. Pereira said he was not surprised. "We were pretty sure this was going to happen. Eventually we were going to have local transmission of this disease."
More than 150 cases have been found in South Florida. Blood centers in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have been told to suspend collections until they can start screening the blood.
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