- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hoping to limit the first local outbreak of Zika virus on the U.S. mainland, Miami-Dade County said Tuesday it will begin using planes to spray for mosquitos that could carry the disease.

Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said the spraying would begin either late Tuesday or Wednesday — weather permitting — in a 10-square-mile area north of downtown Miami, including the Wynwood neighborhood where state officials uncovered more than a dozen suspected cases of Zika through mosquito bite.

Officials say they will spray once a week for adult mosquitos and larvae over the next four weeks, citing recommendations from federal and state officials.

“I ask all residents to continue to do their part by draining standing water, protecting ourselves and our families by using mosquito repellant and covering up when going outdoors, especially during early morning and evening hours,” Mr. Gimenez said.

Until last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been able to link more than 1,650 Zika cases in the states and District of Columbia to people who had returned from countries where the virus is circulating, plus one case of accidental laboratory infection. The disease is spreading on its own in Puerto Rico.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Friday confirmed four cases of likely transmission through mosquito bite on Friday and 10 more on Monday, bringing the total number of local cases in the continental U.S. to 14.

SEE ALSO: Zika fears in Florida stir partisan blame for congressional inaction

In an unprecedented move, the CDC urged pregnant women to avoid the affected square-mile area of Miami, since Zika is known to cause serious birth defects in babies born to infected mothers.

Officials say the small outbreak was likely sparked by a traveler who brought the disease back from a hard-hit country in Latin America.

“Sixty percent of the people in Miami-Dade were born somewhere else, and a lot of them travel back and forth between their native countries and Miami,” Mr. Gimenez said. “So that’s how it happened.”

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