Florida Finds Dengue|While Looking for Zika

     (CN) – Florida health officials found a case of dengue virus during their ongoing fight against the Zika virus and infected mosquitoes that are vectors for both diseases.
     The state’s health department said Wednesday that the dengue infection was acquired locally, Florida’s second this year and the first in Miami.
     The Aedes aegypti mosquito is a vector for dengue and Zika, both flaviviruses. The viruses are so similar that they often lead to false positives when health officials test for one of them. A third flavivirus, chikungunya, can also lead to false positives for Zika.
     Due to the similarities of the viruses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designed two tests that can diagnose Zika separately — one that finds Zika alone, and another that can differentiate between the three flaviviruses.
     Peter Hotez, dean of tropical medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told NBC News that officials likely found the dengue infection since they are actively looking for Zika in the area.
     “There’s likely dengue and Zika in multiple areas of Florida and the Gulf Coast, but we’re not looking,” he said.
     Florida health officials have tested more than 8,300 people as efforts to contain Zika continue in the Sunshine State. So far, 120 locally acquired cases of the virus have been found, likely transmitted by mosquitoes.
     In all, Florida has seen 904 Zika infections, 693 of which were contracted abroad. Of the confirmed infections, 91 involve pregnant women.
     The locations of the tests were announced Wednesday after Miami-Dade County and the state ended their disagreement over whether to publicly disclose the exact addresses where the Zika-infected mosquitoes have been trapped.
     Florida has also been testing mosquitoes for the virus, but no Zika-infected mosquito has been found since Sept. 9.
     “The Department of Health instructed the county, on multiple occasions, to withhold information related to the exact location of the Zika-positive mosquito traps,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a statement.
     “Now that the county has been granted permission — via an email from the Florida Surgeon General — to release this information, we are releasing the addresses. This will be our protocol going forward: We will disclose the locations of any such traps that test positive for Zika to both the property owner and to anyone else who inquires,” he said.
     While new cases have been found almost daily, the tests also detect past infections – so 20 days without finding a Zika-infected mosquito is not necessarily surprising.
     Miami-Dade County should receive additional funds to slow the spread of Zika, since Congress passed a stop-gap funding bill Wednesday that provides $1.1 billion for the fight against the virus.
     Federal relief funds to combat Zika were delayed due to a partisan disagreement on Capitol Hill over possible funding restrictions for Planned Parenthood’s Puerto Rico branch.

%d bloggers like this: