Florida finds first local mosquitoes with Zika virus

How the Zika virus affects an infant's brain

Sept 1 (Reuters) - Florida officials on Thursday said they have trapped the first mosquitoes that tested positive for the Zika virus in the Miami area, further confirming reports of local U.S. transmission of the illness that can cause severe birth defects.

Three mosquito samples tested positive from a small area in Miami Beach where increased trapping and intensified mosquito control measures are being implemented, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said.

SEE ALSO: CDC almost out of Zika money, director says

The Florida Department of Health has said there have so far been 47 cases of Zika in people believed to have contracted the virus in a small area of Miami, but until now, the department had not found infected mosquitoes.

"This find is disappointing, but not surprising," Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said in a statement. "Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami Beach, and state and federal partners will continue to work aggressively to prevent the spread of Zika," Putnam added.

Learn more about the Zika outbreak in Miami:

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Zika outbreak in Miami-Dade county
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Zika outbreak in Miami-Dade county
Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control inspector Sharon Nagel peers into a drain in Miami's Wynwood district to detect any mosquito presence on Saturday, July 30, 2016. A day earlier, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that the Zika virus is being transmitted by mosquitoes in a one-square-mile area north of downtown Miami. (Marsha Halper/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control inspector Sharon Nagel stops to write in her log on Northwest 28th Street in Miami's Wynwood district on Saturday, July 30, 2016. On foot and in her truck, Nagel covered a swath of the district to combat any mosquito presence. A day earlier, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that the Zika virus is being transmitted by mosquitoes in a one-square-mile area north of downtown Miami. (Marsha Halper/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Sharon Nagel, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, walks through the Wynwood neighborhood looking for mosquitos or breeding areas where she kills the mosquitos with larvicide granules or a fogger spraying pesticide as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Diana Ozuna, with her 20-month-old daughter Lianah, lives in Miami's Wynwood district -- an area in which the Zika virus is being transmitted by mosquitoes. On Saturday, July 30, 2016, Ozuna talks about the threat of the virus. She says she takes the threat seriously and applies protective spray on her and her daughter. (Marsha Halper/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control inspector Sharon Nagel drops a chemical tablet into a drain that shows signs of mosquitos in Miami's Wynwood district on Saturday, July 30, 2016. A day earlier, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that the Zika virus is being transmitted by mosquitoes in a one-square-mile area north of downtown Miami. (Marsha Halper/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Sharon Nagel, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, walks through the Wynwood neighborhood looking for mosquitos or breeding areas where she kills the mosquitos with larvicide granules or a fogger spraying pesticide as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Sharon Nagel, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, walks through the Wynwood neighborhood looking for mosquitos or breeding areas where she kills the mosquitos with larvicide granules or a fogger spraying pesticide as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Sharon Nagel, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, walks through the Wynwood neighborhood looking for mosquitos or breeding areas where she kills the mosquitos with larvicide granules or a fogger spraying pesticide as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Robert Muxo, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, prepares to use a fogger to spray pesticide to kill mosquitos in the Wynwood neighborhood as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Robert Muxo, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, prepares to use a fogger to spray pesticide to kill mosquitos in the Wynwood neighborhood as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Robert Muxo, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, uses a fogger to spray pesticide to kill mosquitos in the Wynwood neighborhood as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Now that Zika-positive mosquitoes have been identified in surveillance traps in Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County's Mosquito Control team will continue to conduct inspections to reduce mosquito breeding and perform spray treatments as necessary in a 1/8-mile radius around the trap location, officials said.

"We are aggressively working to eliminate any and all potential mosquito breeding grounds," Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said in a statement. "We need Congress to do its part to provide the necessary emergency resources to properly combat the spread of this virus."

Pregnant women open up about their Zika fears:
Pregnant Women Discuss Zika Fears in Miami

The U.S. Congress has failed to reach an agreement on emergency Zika funding after President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion for mosquito control, development of vaccines and diagnostics and other efforts to combat Zika. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it is running out of funds to fight the virus.

The current Zika outbreak, first detected in Brazil last year, has rapidly spread across the Americas.

Florida officials said more than 40,000 mosquitoes had been tested since May, and that the three samples were the first to test positive.

"It means that there is a substantial amount of Zika virus in that population because it's actually not easy to find the virus in the mosquitoes that you trap," said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.

Zika infection in pregnant women can cause the rare birth defect known as microcephaly, which can lead to serious developmental problems, and has also been linked to severe fetal brain abnormalities.

See more about the birth defects caused by Zika:

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Brazil reporting more microcephaly cases, defect cause by Zika
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Brazil reporting more microcephaly cases, defect cause by Zika
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