The Florida Department of Health announced Tuesday evening that it is investigating the first possible non-travel related case of Zika virus in Miami-Dade County.
The FDH refused to give further details except that it is "actively conducting an epidemiological investigation" along with the Centers for Disease Control.
A press release from the Florida Department of Health says, "Zika prevention kits and repellant will be available for pickup at DOH-Miami-Dade... Zika kits are intended for pregnant women." But as of Wednesday morning, the kits were not available at the Miami-Dade Health District Center office. When WLRN called phone numbers listed for the other county clinics, no one was aware of the status of the kits.
Olga Connor of the Miami-Dade County Health Department's communications office says the Zika prevention kits are being shipped and should arrive in Miami on Thursday. Pregnant women who are interested in receiving one should call 305-324-2400 to find out where and when to pick one up.
Zika causes flu-like symptoms in adults, and children and may also be linked to microcephaly, a birth defect that can result in incomplete brain development. Scientists are still studying the way the virus is transmitted but most cases seems to be acquired through the bite of an infected mosquito.
In its daily Zika update, issued every weekday at 2 p.m., the Florida authorities reported seven new Zika cases, all travel related. Three of these cases were in Broward, three in Orange County and one in Miami-Dade. The total cases in the state have risen to 283, plus 43 cases involving pregnant women that are not identified by county for reasons of privacy.
Since May 2015, more than 1.4 million cases of the virus have been identified in South America, with most infections occurring in Brazil. World Health Organization experts, who have described the virus as "spreading explosively," say there could be as many as three to four million zika infections in the next year.
On a 52-48 vote, the 1.1 billion dollar Zika funding bill failed to get the 60 votes needed for approval in the Senate last June. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) was among the Senate Democrats who blocked the proposal.
“We need to stop playing these political games,” he said, on the Senate floor. “It's time to treat this as a real emergency and it's time to pass the appropriations bill without all of this political agenda added to it.”
Nelson was referring to language contained in the House proposal that reverses a ban on flying the Confederate flag in military cemeteries. Critics say it also cuts funding for birth control services provided by Planned Parenthood.
While Nelson voted against the measure, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) supported it. In a statement, Rubio said the Zika bill wasn’t perfect and didn’t go far enough, but it’s “absolutely better than nothing.”
Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., reacted with disgust last week after Congress went on recess without approving any funding to fight the spread of Zika.
His press office sent an email with his reaction Wednesday to the news of the possible local transmission.
“This is a disturbing yet predictable development that is precisely why Congress needed to approve emergency funding,” Buchanan said. “We must do everything possible to protect the public and keep the virus from spreading. Washington’s failure to approve emergency funding was a national disgrace that needs to be corrected as soon as Congress returns from its summer recess.”