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Sen. Bill Nelson Seeks Reconvening of Congress Over Zika

Image: Sen. Bill Nelson Seeks Reconvening of Congress Over Zika
Sen. Bill Nelson (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Friday, 29 Jul 2016 04:54 PM

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reconvene Congress so lawmakers can pass an emergency spending bill to fight the spread of the Zika virus.

Nelson sent McConnell a letter Friday after health officials confirmed four people in South Florida likely contracted Zika from mosquito bites. It is the first local transmission in the U.S. mainland.

The Republican-controlled Congress left on a seven-week vacation without giving the Obama administration any of the $1.9 billion it sought for mosquito control, vaccine development and other steps to battle Zika.

Nelson, a Florida Democrat, says the time is now for Congress to act.

Some residents of the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami say they plan to stop eating outside now that four people likely contracted the Zika virus from mosquito bites in South Florida.

State officials on Friday pinpointed the cases to the Wynwood area, a trendy neighborhood of art galleries and boutiques.

Property manager Marlon Lizano says the news is scary. He regularly eats lunch outside but now says he will start eating indoors.

Jenny Gray, who works for an art designer in Wynwood, says she is concerned and plans to start wearing bug repellant.

2:20 p.m.

Puerto Rico health officials are reporting a total of 7,296 Zika cases in the U.S. territory that include 788 pregnant women.

Friday's announcement comes as Puerto Rico prepares to use the organic larvicide Bti to fight the mosquito-borne virus that can cause birth defects.

Health Secretary Ana Rius said 74 people have been hospitalized including 23 diagnosed with a temporary paralysis condition known as Guillain-Barre that has been linked to Zika.

She said all 78 of the island's municipalities have reported Zika cases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that hundreds of children could be born with birth defects in the coming year. The agency said Puerto Rico is facing a silent epidemic because eight of 10 people have no symptoms.

2 p.m.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has issued a statewide mosquito declaration following the news that South Florida has the first four cases in the U.S. mainland of the Zika virus transmitted by mosquito.

Putnam said on Friday that the declaration allows aggressive mosquito-control efforts to be taken within at least a 200-yard radius around the home of someone who has gotten infected by a mosquito.

Those efforts include spraying insecticide and chemicals that kill larvae and conducting mosquito surveillance.

Putnam says Floridians should wear bug spray and drain bodies of standing water.

1:50 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio says the announcement that South Florida has four cases of mosquito-transmitted Zika virus isn't just a public health crisis but an economic one as well for the tourist-dependent state.

Rubio said Friday during a campaign event in the Miami suburb, Doral, that the federal government needs to quickly distribute money to combat the spread of the virus.

The Florida Republican says the news may make visitors think twice about coming to Florida. The state had 106 million visitors last year.

Congress left on a seven-week vacation without giving the Obama administration any of the $1.9 billion it sought for mosquito control, vaccine development and other steps to battle Zika.

Rubio is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate after dropping out of the U.S. presidential race earlier this year.

1 p.m.

President Obama's spokesman says Florida needs more federal money to limit the spread of the Zika virus.

White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said Friday's announcement that South Florida has four mosquito-transmitted cases should be a wake-up call for Congress "to get back to work."

Congress left on a seven-week vacation without giving the Obama administration any of the $1.9 billion it sought for mosquito control, vaccine development and other steps to battle Zika.

Schultz called that "regrettable."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it has provided Florida $8 million in Zika-specific funding, and the White House has said the state can anticipate receiving another $5.6 million in Zika funding through a grant.

1 p.m.

An entomologist at the University of Florida says it's not surprising that no mosquitoes have tested positive for Zika even though four residents in South Florida have been found to be the first cases of mosquito-borne Zika virus in the U.S. mainland.

Roxanne Connelly said Friday that finding positive mosquitoes is like chasing a moving target.

Connelly talked about the difficulties in finding positive mosquitoes after Gov. Rick Scott confirmed that the three men and one woman in the Miami area likely contracted the virus through mosquito bites.

Connelly says it can take a couple of weeks before an infected person starts exhibiting symptoms and by then the mosquitoes that transmitted the virus are dead.

She says it's also difficult to determine where someone was infected, whether it was at home, at work or somewhere else.

She says during a recent outbreak in the African nation Senegal, scientists tested 11,000 mosquitoes but only found 31 bugs that tested positive for Zika.

11:30 a.m.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs says potential visitors to Florida shouldn't think twice about coming to the Sunshine State.

Jacob's jurisdiction covers the Orlando area's major theme parks in the Orlando area, and she spoke to reporters Friday after Gov. Rick Scott announced that South Florida has the first four cases of Zika transmitted by mosquitoes in the U.S. mainland.

There have been no mosquito-transmitted cases in central Florida yet. But Orlando was the country's most visited metro area last year with 66 million tourists, and tourism is Florida's biggest industry.

Jacobs says Florida's theme parks have some of the best mosquito control measures in place that she knows of and that the parks are safe.

But she encourages visitors to take precautions such as wearing bug spray and getting rid of any standing water they may have.

9:50 a.m.

Florida's governor says the state has concluded that four mysterious Zika infections likely came from mosquitoes in the Miami area.

Gov. Rick Scott said Friday that no mosquitoes in the state have tested positive for Zika. But he says one woman and three men in Miami-Dade and Broward counties likely contracted the virus through mosquito bites.

More than 1,650 Zika infections have been reported in the U.S., but the four patients in Florida would be the first not linked to travel outside the U.S. mainland.

Scott says health officials believe the infections occurred in a small area just north of downtown Miami.

Zika primarily spreads through bites from tropical mosquitoes. In most people, the virus causes only mild illness, but infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects for the fetus.

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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reconvene Congress so lawmakers can pass an emergency spending bill to fight the spread of the Zika virus.
bill nelson, zika, health, mosquito, florida
1110
2016-54-29
Friday, 29 Jul 2016 04:54 PM
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