Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads Zika

Researchers fear that mosquitoes in the U.S. have begun spreading the Zika virus

Florida health officials are investigating four mysterious cases of Zika infection that do not appear to be related to travel.

The four cases were detected in the Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Investigating whether Zika is being carried by mosquitoes locally, scientists plan to survey houses and people within a 150-yard radius of the cases, which is the flying radius of the insect.

U.S. experts also were baffled last week by a Zika case in Utah in which a care-giver caught Zika after tending to a dying elderly man with the virus.

The cases have raised the possibility that mosquitoes in the U.S. have begun to spread the virus.

Congress left for a seven-week vacation without giving the Obama administration any of the $1.9 billion it's seeking to battle the Zika virus. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will begin making awards totaling nearly $60 million to states, cities, and territories to support efforts to protect Americans from Zika virus disease and adverse health outcomes that can result from Zika infection, including the serious birth defect microcephaly, according to a statement issued by the agency,

“Local, state and territorial health departments are on the front lines in the fight against Zika,” said CDC director Tom Frieden in a prepared statement.“These CDC funds will strengthen state and territorial capacity to respond to Zika virus, an increasingly concerning public health threat for pregnant women and babies. We hope Congress will provide the additional resources we need to fully support the Zika response.”

Due to congressional inaction, the CDC has to borrow the money to combat Zika from funds intended for flu, hurricane relief and other emergencies. The CDC has warned that it may have to delay testing for a vaccine if Congress continues to deny adequate funding to fight the disease.

The CDC has awarded $812,000 to Wisconsin to fight the Zika virus. Wisconsin Republicans, led by Gov. Scott Walker, apparently will allow the state to take the money, even though they’ve steadfastly refused to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid for poor families in the state. They oppose federal programs on philosophical grounds, saying such efforts represent “big government.”

Democrats have said that Walker's refusal of federal Medicaid expansion has forced state taxpayers more to cover fewer people in the BadgerCare Plus health plan. If Walker had accepted the money, 87,000 more adults a month would have been served under the state’s health plan.

Walker’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, combined with his massive tax breaks to the very wealthy, has contributed to a $2.2 billion budget deficit.

According to estimates by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state could have saved more than $500 million over three and a half years by accepting federal Medicaid expansion. Wisconsin will lose about $1.8 billion in 2022 for rejecting the federal funds.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin taxpayers are still pouring money into the federal program, but it’s going to other states.

How Zika can spread

  • Bites from mosquitoes that carry the virus
  • Maternal transmission from mother to baby in the womb
  • Unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sexual intercourse – although rare, the virus can persist in semen
  • Zika virus has been found in other bodily fluids, including saliva and urine, but it is unknown whether it can spread through these routes
  • Blood transfusion — very likely but not confirmed

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