Miami Beach mosquitoes test positive for Zika

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Zika A. aegpti mosquito

Mosquitoes from Miami Beach have tested positive for Zika in an area with increased trapping and intensified mosquito control measures, Florida officials say. (Jeffrey Arguedas/EPA)

Some mosquitoes in Miami Beach have tested positive for the Zika virus, Florida officials say.

Florida’s agriculture department said Thursday that the virus was detected in three mosquito samples from a small area in Miami Beach.

“This find is disappointing, but not surprising,” the state’s agriculture commissioner, Adam Putnam, said in a release.

The number of non-travel-related Zika infections in humans has grown to 47 in Miami-Dade County since the first case was identified just over a month ago.

The surveillance tests were conducted as part of an investigation by Florida’s health department into local transmission of the virus.

Samples were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Florida Gulf Coast University for confirmation, the department said.

It says more than 2,470 mosquito samples have been tested since May, and these three were the first to test positive.

Health officials say mosquito control is a key way to stem the outbreak, along with educating people about limiting their exposure to the insects.

Elsewhere on Thursday, China intensified its checks on people and goods arriving from Singapore, as an outbreak of the Zika virus in the small city-state was confirmed to have spread to at least one person in neighbouring Malaysia.

Authorities in Singapore, a leading regional financial centre and busy transit hub for people and cargo, said they had detected 151 people with the Zika virus, including a second pregnant woman.

Singapore confirms 31 more Zika cases

The government said earlier that half of the 115 cases reported previously were foreigners, mainly from China, India and Bangladesh, and most had already recovered. Many of them are believed to be among the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Singapore’s construction and marine industries.

Some new Zika cases have been found beyond the cluster area where the virus was initially detected.

“We have been tracking Zika for a while now, and knew it was only a matter of time before it reached Singapore,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted on his Facebook page. “Our best defence is to eradicate mosquitoes and destroy breeding habitats, all over Singapore.”

Singapore is the only Asian country with an active transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is a particular risk to pregnant women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Malaysia confirmed its first case of Zika infection, in a woman who had recently visited Singapore.

The United States, Australia and other countries have warned pregnant women or those trying to conceive not to travel to Singapore.

The outbreak and travel warnings come just two weeks before the Singapore F1 motor-racing Grand Prix, a major sporting and tourist draw. Race promoter Singapore GP has said planning for the event is going ahead “as per normal”.

The Zika virus, which has spread through the Americas and the Caribbean since late last year, is generally a mild disease but has been linked to microcephaly — a severe birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.

The World Health Organisation, which has declared Zika an international public health emergency, was holding a regular meeting of its Zika emergency committee on Thursday to review the spread of the disease.

Zika is carried by mosquitoes, which transmit the virus to humans, though a small number of cases of sexual transmission of the virus have been reported in the Americas. A case of suspected transmission through a blood transfusion in Brazil has raised questions about other ways in which Zika may spread.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is a close cousin of dengue and chikungunya and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes.

An estimated 80 per cent of people infected have no symptoms.

The WHO has also linked Zika to Guillain-Barré​, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.

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Miami Beach mosquitoes test positive for Zika

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