- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Florida health officials said Wednesday they are investigating two additional cases of Zika that don’t seem to be linked to travel, bringing the total number of mysterious cases to four.

The state is working with the Centers for Disease Control to conclude whether the cases in Miami-Dade and Broward counties represent the first instances of transmission through mosquito bite on the U.S. mainland.

“More than 200 people have been interviewed and some have been tested as part of the department’s investigations and we await additional lab results,” said Mara Gambineri, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health.

She said the department and mosquito control officials are conducting door-to-door Zika outreach around the affected persons’ homes, work places and frequently visited locations.

Mosquito control teams also are trapping bugs from those locations and testing them for Zika.

As it stands, mosquitoes have been responsible for more than 3,800 cases of Zika in the U.S. territories, mostly in Puerto Rico, but none confirmed in the continental U.S.

Officials have been able to trace more than 1,400 cases on the U.S. mainland to travel, though 15 of them occurred through sexual transmission.

Earlier this month, the CDC said it is also investigating a mysterious Zika case out of Utah. A patient contracted the virus without having sex with an infected person, and scientists do not think that Zika-carrying mosquitoes are active in the state.

The person was, however, a family contact of an elderly person who traveled to a Zika-affected area and died in late June. The deceased person’s blood showed “uniquely high” amounts of the virus, prompting scientists to wonder whether the virus can be transmitted between humans through means they don’t know about.

The CDC is investigating the cases without any new money from Congress, which left town for a seven-week break earlier this month without settling a months-long impasse over funding to fight Zika at home and abroad.

Senate Democrats voted twice to filibuster a GOP-drafted deal, saying the $1.1 billion package offered too little cash with too many strings attached.

Republicans on the House and Senate spending committees fired off a letter telling the White House to ransack other funds if it runs out of money before September, when Congress will be back in town.

President Obama had requested nearly $2 billion in February to fight Zika, though House Republicans balked at the price tag and the White House’s decision not to seek offsetting budget cuts to pay for the package.

The administration says it will use every penny of the $510 million it swiped from its Ebola account to get things started in April, though it is reluctant to tap more funding dedicated to the lingering fight in West Africa.

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