Florida battles Zika virus with 17 confirmed cases

  • 09/08/2016
Florida battles Zika virus with 17 confirmed cases

Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott has accused the US government of lagging in providing assistance to combat the spread of the Zika virus in a Miami-area neighbourhood, the site of the first US transmission of the virus.

Scott spoke on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday (local time) about the neighbourhood of Wynwood, where crews began aerial spraying on Thursday to kill virus-carrying mosquitoes. Zika can cause microcephaly, a rare but devastating birth defect.

State health authorities had identified 17 cases of Zika that were spread by local mosquitoes and federal government has been criticised for failing to get more involved in battling the virus.

Scott said he asked US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Thomas Frieden earlier this week for 10,000 additional Zika preparedness kits.

"We still need the federal government to show up. The President and Congress have to work together. This is a national, international issue. It's not just a Florida issue," Scott said.

US President Barack Obama last week called on Congress to approve more funds to fight Zika's spread in the US, saying that money to fight the outbreak is rapidly running out.

Scott's comments come a day after Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida stirred controversy by saying pregnant women infected with Zika should not be able to get an abortion, even when there was evidence the baby might be born with severe microcephaly.

"I understand a lot of people disagree with my view - but I believe that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws," Rubio, a former candidate for his party's presidential nomination, told political news outlet Politico.

"But if I'm going to err, I'm going to err on the side of life."

US health regulators said on Friday that they had cleared the way for a trial of genetically modified mosquitoes in Florida that can reduce mosquito populations, potentially offering a new tool to fight the local spread of Zika and other viruses.

The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last autumn in Brazil.

Reuters / CBS

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