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Florida fears Hermine could hamper fight against Zika

Hermine impact on Zika threat
Hermine impact on Zika threat 02:14

There’s concern the heavy rainfall and high winds from Hurricane Hermine will sideline Florida’s efforts to fight the Zika virus.

For the first time, officials have trapped mosquitoes carrying the virus in the United States, found within the Miami Beach Zika Zone. 

The discovery of Zika inside these mosquitoes confirms that the insects are in fact spreading the virus in the U.S. As Hurricane Hermine hits Florida -- where 49 people have been infected by local transmission -- the state’s governor is bracing for the impact, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller. 

Zika mosquitoes found 00:18

“We have to get rid of standing water. That’s the most important thing we can do now and after the this storm hits,” said Governor Rick Scott. 

In the lead up to Hurricane Hermine, Florida officials have been relentlessly removing even the smallest traces of water to stop the spread of Zika. 

“I think all of us expected that there would be mosquitoes carrying Zika,” said Miami Beach City Manager Jim Morales.

After inspecting nearly 2,500 samples, Florida officials identified the virus in three groups of mosquitoes trapped in Miami Beach -- a first in the United States. 

“If there are positive traps, we know when, we know where, alright? We can identify where this transmission is occurring,” said Dr. Chris Braden.

Zika funding dwindling 01:36

One of those positive traps was at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, which has temporarily closed while crews remove its featured bromeliad plants. The flowers collect water where mosquitoes can breed. 

And while Hurricane Hermine could drop more than a foot of rain in parts of the state, scientists said its impact on mosquitoes is a double-edged sword. 

“The good news about hurricanes is they can wash away mosquito populations,” Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean at the Baylor College National School of Tropical Medicine. “The downside is that the hurricane will interrupt any ongoing efforts of mosquito control. And then as the floodwaters recede, we could see the reappearance of mosquitoes.”

Another problem in Florida in fighting Zika is cost. The directors of the CDC said this week that funds have almost run out. 

The House will consider a $1.3 billion Zika bill when it returns from vacation next week. 

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