For the first time in the U.S., mosquitoes trapped in a zone where Zika virus is being actively transmitted have tested positive for the virus.
Three Zika-positive moquitoes were sampled in South Beach, where a 1.5-square mile zone has been designated as an area of active transmission of the virus, The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confirmed Thursday morning. One of the areas with a positive test is the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, which was closed on Monday due to high mosquito counts.
According to a press release from Beach officials, the Florida Department of Health found high counts of mosquitoes in certain areas and started testing.
In light of the high counts, the city closed the botanical garden on Monday until further notice. Voters in Tuesday’s primary election were redirected to City Hall to cast their ballots. Later Monday evening, City Manager Jimmy Morales hinted at high numbers of mosquitoes in the area, telling residents at a town hall that high counts on Lincoln Road prompted city workers to rip out dozens of bromeliads.
Two weeks ago, the Center for Disease Control and Prevnention issued a travel advisory warning pregnant women to avoid the new South Beach zone, which stretches from Fifth Street north to 28th Street, and from Biscayne Bay east to the Atlantic Ocean. Tourism chiefs had hoped Zika wouldn’t land in the seaside resort city, and they’ve been anxious ever since.
County and city officials have ramped up mosquito control efforts both in South Beach, the heart of the area’s tourism industry, and Wynwood. Mosquito counts have decreased. But the Beach, a dense urban environment with lots of landscaping that can serve as breeding grounds, presents a challenge for officials. Bromeliads, for example, provide an ripe environment for mosquitoes because it traps water between its leaves.