TAMPA (FOX 13) - Mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus could be in the U.S. within a months, a top U.S. health official warned Sunday.
Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director, said he expects Americans to soon by infected locally, which would mark the first cases that were not travel-related.
"We all think it is inevitable that it's probably going to happen," said FOX 13 medical expert, Dr. Joette Giovinco. "The other variable that we have in this equation is the fact that individuals coming back with Zika infections may not be symptomatic. They may not even know they have the virus."
Mosquito experts said Florida may be among the first, or the very first, state to see a locally-contracted Zika case.
Dr. Carlos Fernandes, Hillsborough County's manager of mosquito control, said there is a high concentration in Florida of Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, the type that are known to carry the Zika virus.
"People go over there and they come back to the United States with carrying the virus. All it takes is for one mosquito to bite that individual," Fernandes said. "They are the kind of mosquito that are easy around us. They come inside of our house, they bite us when we are going to go to sleep, they bite us again when we get up."
So far, there have been almost 550 cases of Zika in the U.S., including more than 100 in Florida, but all have been travel-related or transmitted sexually.
Fernandes said mosquito control departments and health departments have been coordinating efforts for months, preparing for this possibility.
In the meantime, Congress has been debating how much funding to approve to fight Zika; while President Obama requested $1.9 billion, the U.S. Senate approved $1.1 billion and the House signed off on about half that amount.
It's unclear when lawmakers might come to a decision.