Miami-Dade health officials ask for public’s help fighting Zika

Miami-Dade health officials held a news conference, Friday morning, to ask for the public’s help combating mosquitos after two cases of the Zika virus were believed to have originated in South Florida this week.

Mosquito control crews have been working overtime responding to high concentrations of mosquitos, and some residents are learning that their bromeliad plants can be a breeding ground for the bugs.

Lidya Rodriguez of Miami Gardens said her home has been swarmed with mosquitos lately. “I really cannot even open my door,” she said. “I’m a senior citizen, I have to be extremely careful.”

When a Miami-Dade mosquito inspector arrived at Rodriguez’s home, he showed 7News the standing water many mosquitos were breeding in.

“Those are all mosquitos,” he said. “They are all ready to pop. That’s pretty bad.”

Mosquito control patrols have shifted into high gear after two cases of Zika were confirmed in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Investigators are still trying to verify whether the cases were contracted in South Florida.

“We are at the front lines of this situation with Zika virus now,” said Miami-Dade County mosquito control manager Chalmers Vasquez.

“We have to avoid mosquito bites, folks,” Lillian Rivera, of the Miami-Dade Department of Health. “This is a community issue, not one community. It’s the whole community that needs to cooperate.”

Health officials suggest residents drain any standing water, use mosquito repellent and cover their arms and legs when outside.

Pregnant women need to be especially careful, because the virus can cause microcephaly in babies.

“The virus has been found to be a cause of severe birth defects including a condition called microcephaly,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said, “where the head and brain of the child are underdeveloped.”

Mosquito control crews have been working to collect the mosquitos for testing, as well, but none have tested positive yet.

Officials said residents can use turkey basters to test their plants, and if mosquitos are swimming around in the water, to flush them out every couple of days. Mosquito granules are also available at home and garden stores.

Residents can request help by calling 311 for help in Miami-Dade, or visiting broward.org. The federal government is providing $5.6 million to Florida for Zika prevention.

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