Authorities in Florida said Thursday they have found the Zika virus in three groups of trapped mosquitoes in Miami Beach, the first time this has happened in the continental US.
Two weeks after announcing that five non-travel cases of Zika had been discovered in the city of Miami Beach, state officials confirmed that three mosquitoes taken from areas in the city tested positive for the virus.
"This find is disappointing, but not surprising," Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam said. "Florida is among the best in the nation when it comes to mosquito surveillance and control, and this detection enables us to continue to effectively target our resources."
Since the first non-travel Zika case in Miami-Dade County was identified just over a month ago mosquito controllers had not been able to find any bugs with the virus.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said 95 more trapped mosquitoes tested negative since the three local mosquitoes with Zika were found. Intensive trapping and testing continues.
"Today, we learned of the first mosquitoes that have tested positive for the Zika virus in our state. DACS has only found three mosquito samples out of the more than 42,400 individual mosquitoes that have been tested across the state," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. "These mosquitoes were trapped in the small area in Miami Beach where we believe local transmission has been occurring. The CDC is performing an additional test to verify that this is Zika and to identify the strain of the virus."
The new announcement was made by the Florida Department of Agriculture and came one week after the city notified the state’s Department of Health that they were testing several areas, including the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
Miami Beach officials have spent the last two weeks spraying areas in the transmission zone, located between 8th Street and 28th Street. Code enforcement officials have been going through the area, fining people who have standing water and other areas on their property that are known to attract the insects – which carry the Zika virus – and help them breed.
The area in Miami Beach as well as the Wynwood section north of Downtown Miami have been classified as Zika Zones, where most of the infected local cases are believed to have come from.
On Thursday, the Florida Department of Health announced two new non-travel related Zika cases in Miami-Dade, one in the area in Miami Beach and one associated with Wynwood that experienced symptoms in July.
In all, 49 non-travel related cases of the virus have been found in Florida since July while 576 travel-related cases have been confirmed.
"As it has been from the beginning, our goal is to eliminate the cycle of transmission by eliminating the mosquitoes," Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said in a news release.
Authorities say one potential breeding ground residents should look out for are bromeliads. The inside of the plant provides the perfect environment for mosquito reproduction.
"The City of Miami is removing bromeliads from all public areas, they've been removed from the Botanical Garden, we did that over the last three days," Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales said.
"If you have bromeliads I would ask you to please consider removing them or draining them after every rain or flushing them," Gimenez said.