Mosquitoes test positive for Zika virus for first time in U.S.

Zika Virus

MIAMI (UPI) — The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on Thursday confirmed mosquitoes in Miami have tested positive for the Zika virus.

Three mosquitoes tested positive in the South Beach neighborhood, where a 1.5-square mile active transmission zone was designated. It is the first time in the United States that a mosquito has tested positive for the Zika virus.

“This find is disappointing, but not surprising. 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,” commissioner of agriculture Adam H. 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.”

One of the mosquitoes that tested positive for Zika was found in the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Mosquito counts have decreased amid control efforts by Miami-Dade County and city officials — primarily in Wynwood and South Beach. A travel advisory for pregnant women was also announced Thursday for some Miami areas.

 The Zika epidemic is blamed on the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus — along with dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Hospitalizations and fatalities are rare, with symptoms such as rash and fever lasting from a few days to one week. The virus was first isolated from a monkey in Uganda’s Zika forest in 1947.

The Zika virus is also linked to instances of microcephaly — a developmental defect resulting in a smaller-than-normal head or brain — in newborns.

A recent poll found that 23 percent of Americans are at least somewhat worried about contracting the Zika virus while 77 percent are not seriously concerned.