Sources: Miami Beach Police officer infected with Zika virus; Botanical Garden remains closed

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - The Miami Beach Botanical Garden remains closed, Friday morning, after mosquitoes that tested positive for Zika were found in the garden.

Officials said one of the groups of mosquitoes detected with the virus came from the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. They would not say where the other two were from due to privacy reasons.

“We have identified cases of human beings with Zika; I think all of us expected there would be mosquitoes carrying Zika,” Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales said, “pools of mosquitoes that were tested positive for Zika.”

All bromeliad plants are being removed from city landscaping after the discovery, and the city has encouraged all residents and businesses to do the same.

The Miami Beach Botanical Garden has been closed since Monday.

One frequent visitor stood outside with her dog, unable to enter. Asked how often she goes to the garden, Nartiz Mender said, “Yeah, almost every day, but Monday because Monday is closed and today is closed as well, and it’s Thursday.”

Officials considered opening the garden on Friday morning, but it remains closed due to spraying. There is no word on whether the garden will remain closed throughout the week.

According to 7News sources, a Miami Beach Police officer became infected with the virus.

The City of Miami Beach nor its police department have not commented on this case. The identity or condition of the officer is unclear at this time.

Thursday morning, authorities said, they found the Zika virus in three groups of trapped mosquitoes in Miami Beach, the first time this has happened in the continental U.S.

At the Stephen P. Clark Center Thursday, county and city officials announced the finding.

“Three traps have come back with positive for Zika infected mosquitoes. That’s out of 19 traps in Miami Beach and a number of traps around Miami-Dade County,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez said. “This is the first time that we see, actually, mosquitoes infected with Zika.”

The Zika-carrying mosquitoes were trapped in a touristy 1.5 square-mile area of Miami Beach that had been identified as a zone of active transmission of the virus, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in a news release.

“This find is disappointing but not surprising,” Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam said. “Florida is among the best in the nation when it comes to mosquito surveillance and control, and this detection enables us to continue to effectively target our resources.”

So far, a total of 47 locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus have been discovered in Florida, according to the CDC.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced the Miami Beach Zika zone on Aug. 19. The first U.S. hot zone for locally transmitted cases of Zika was identified in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, in late July.

The mosquito-borne illness is especially dangerous for pregnant women and has been linked to serious birth defects. The CDC has issued a travel advisory for pregnant women to avoid the Zika hot Zones in Miami-Dade County.

If a mosquito carrying Zika does bite, it can take up to two weeks to cause symptoms like:

  • fever
  • headache
  • skin rash
  • joint pain
  • conjunctivitis, which causes red, irritated eyes

The State Surgeon General has activated a 24-hour Zika hotline in Florida to answer questions and concerns. That number is 855-622-6735.

Pregnant women can receive a free test at the Health District Center, located at 1350 NW 14th St in Miami. For more information, call (305)-324-2400.

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