As Florida's Zika battle escalates, money to fight virus running out

WYNWOOD, Fla. -- An aerial attack on aedes aegypti mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus began Thursday morning in south Florida. The Department of Health and Human Services warns that money to fight Zika could run out this month. Fifteen locally transmitted Zika cases have been confirmed in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

The first plane spraying for the mosquitoes targeted a 10-square mile area with insecticide, reports CBS News correspondent David Begnaud. Government officials warn, in order to combat this virus, it's going to take billions that Congress has yet to approve.

Fighting the Zika virus is challenging and expensive. The first Zika vaccine is now being tested by the National Institutes of Health. According to the NIH, this vaccine uses a DNA approach which is similar to how the West Nile virus vaccine was developed. Eighty volunteers are the focus of this first phase of testing. If successful, up to 5,000 more people could be tested in a second phase starting in January.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said stalled funding in Congress could compromise the process.

"The president asked for $1.9 billion in February," Fauci said. "If we don't get the money very soon that will interfere with the smooth transition ... into the phase two trial."

Florida is the only state to report locally transmitted cases of Zika. Miami-Dade County is using an insecticide called Naled to spray the bugs from the air. In Puerto Rico, where nearly 5,000 cases of Zika have been reported, officials rejected using the chemical over health concerns -- but the EPA insists the pesticide is safe.

In 2015 an estimated 15 million people visited Miami, spending approximately $24 billion. So for the city, Zika's threat expands beyond a health crisis.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he is "deeply concerned" about Zika's impact on Florida's tourism industry.

"Do you think there's a reluctance on the part of some state officials to act more aggressively because they're afraid of what it may do to tourism?" Begnaud asked him.

"I haven't seen that. The state has put up close to $20 million of state money to deal with this issue," Rubio said. "I don't think the state would put public health behind tourism."

Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday that all pregnant women across the state can now be tested for free. But civilians aren't the only ones affected, as 44 service members overseas reportedly are also infected with Zika -- including one pregnant woman.