Three additional people have been reported to have contracted the Zika virus in ongoing outbreak centered in northern Miami, bringing the total number of those infected to 25, the Florida Health Department said today.
This outbreak is the first in which Zika virus infections have been linked to infected mosquitoes in the continental U.S.
The news of the additional cases came hours after Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced that mosquito control activities have reduced the size of the area where Zika transmission is ongoing in Florida.
Four square blocks in the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami have been cleared and therefore the size of the area where Zika transmission is believed to be ongoing has been reduced, officials from the governor's office and the Florida Department of Health said earlier today. Health officials now believe all Zika virus transmission is occurring within an area less than a square mile in northern Miami.
The health department had previously mapped a square-mile area where it suspected the Zika virus was being transmitted via infected mosquitoes.
"We believe active transmissions of Zika are still only occurring in an area in Miami that is less than one square mile," Scott said in a statement today. "Last week, we were able to clear a 10-block portion of the area and today, it’s great to announce that we are able to clear an additional four blocks. This means the area where we believe active transmissions are occurring in the state is significantly reducing."
Scott said that he is also authorizing an additional $18 million to help state and local officials conduct mosquito control activities to bring down the mosquito population and reduce the chance of Zika infection. He also lambasted Congress and the Obama administration for not providing more support to fight the outbreak.
"I still have outstanding requests that I put into the Obama Administration that I am waiting on and I am disappointed that Congress has not come back to work to deal with this national issue," he said in a statement. "The president and Congress must work together to get to a solution for all the families across our nation."
President Obama has requested $1.9 billion in Zika funding, but Congress has yet to pass a bill with anything near that amount. The Senate passed a $1.1 billion deal in June, but the House’s approval of its own $1.1 billion in funding was filibustered by Democrats, who argued that they were left out of negotiations on the bill, and that the measure would take funds away from other health programs and bar any availability of funds for birth control.