Scott cancels Zika trip to Washington due to storm


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Rick Scott has canceled a trip to Washington where he was to meet with congressional leaders about funding for the Zika virus.

Spokeswoman Jackie Schutz says that Scott will remain in Florida to monitor response efforts to Hurricane Hermine. The state has seen a rise in the number of cases of the mosquito-borne disease over the past month.

Congress returns from its seven-week summer break on Tuesday. President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency funds in February to develop a vaccine and control the mosquitoes that carry the virus. But lawmakers left Washington in mid-July without approving any of the money.

As of Thursday, Florida had 49 locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus, 576 travel-related cases and 80 infections involving pregnant women, according to information posted on the Department of Health website.

Last week, Florida found the Zika virus in three groups of mosquitoes trapped in Miami Beach -- the first time this has happened in the continental U.S. -- and authorities say a particular flower is making mosquito control much more difficult.

One of the traps that tested positive was at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, where bromeliads bloom. The plants trap standing water in their cylindrical centers, providing excellent breeding areas for mosquitoes amid their colorful flowers and pointy leaves.