For a while now, people have been wondering when the Zika epidemic would become a problem for the US.
That time is now. A case of people infected in the continental US was reported in Florida on Friday, which prompted Governor Rick Scott to alert the public.
During a press conference, Scott said,
We learned today that four people in our state likely have the Zika virus as a result of a mosquito bite. All four of these people live in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and the Florida Department of Health believes that active transmissions of this virus could be occurring in one small area in Miami.
Specifically speaking, the disease appears to have been transmitted by Aedes aegypti, the type of mosquitoes that carry Zika.
The question on everyone's mind now is obvious: How long will it be 'til Zika spreads elsewhere in the US?
Well, for now, transmission of Zika appears restricted to just a one-square-mile area in Miami, The New York Times reports. And while there are over 1,500 cases of Zika infections in the US, until today, they were all travel-related incidents.
That said, the general consensus appears to be because of the standard of living within the US, the virus is not expected to experience a rapid spread at all.
Adam Putnam, Florida's agriculture commissioner, was quoted by The Washington Post as saying,
Let's be very clear about that. The opportunity for [mosquito] habitat in Florida, while Florida is a warm, wet, subtropical climate, is very different than the nations that have seen much, much higher incidence of Zika spread — largely because higher standards of living in the state of Florida.
Still, however, officials are looking to the US government to help them keep things this way. Congress has not yet approved the $1.9 billion in funding President Obama requested to help combat the Zika virus, which puts the situation in a bit of limbo.
Chalmers Vasquez, Miami-Dade county's mosquito control manager, said,
So far, it's manageable. People are all waiting for Congress to approve the money.
For everyone's sake, let's hope it stays "manageable."
Citations: Zika is in Florida. Here are 9 facts to calm you down. (Vox), In Florida Cases, Zika Epidemic Enters a New Stage (The New York Times), U.S. confirms Florida Zika cases are first local transmission in continental U.S. (The Washington Post)