Mosquito control manager: ‘Mosquito breeding could start again’

MIAMI (WSVN) - Mosquito control crews in Zika hot zones have worked hard to eliminate standing water, but they fear forecast rain storms will undo their work.

According to health officials, there have been no new Zika transmissions in Wynwood for the last 20 days, partly because crews have cleared out much of the standing water in the area, as well as on Miami Beach. However, the idea of a big storm that will bring a lot of rain could mean a major setback, and that’s what seems to be brewing in the Caribbean ocean.

Wave has 80% chance of developing; could threaten So Fla.
A mosquito control manager gave an update, Wednesday morning, on the possible storm heading to South Florida and what it means for areas like Wynwood. “With heavy rains, the possibility of mosquito breeding could start again in the area,” said Mosquito Control Operations Manager Chalmers Vasquez.

County, city and state leaders continue to ask residents to do their part by draining water after the downpour.

Another mosquito control official, Frank Calderone, agreed that more rain spells trouble. “That will, unfortunately, mean more places, more containers, that can be holding water,” said Calderone. “We plead with our residents to eliminate water after the rain.”

Vasquez spoke in Downtown Miami and, in spite of the possible storms, said there are 10 percent less mosquitoes in the area since they began preventative measures.

Crews have been going around the Zika hot zone areas spraying any standing water with chemicals. “Treating all the storm drains in the area,” said one crew member.

“We have a number of BG traps that we collect in the area on a daily basis to monitor the mosquito population and to collect a sample for virus screenings,” Vasquez said. “So far, so good. No mosquitoes infected with viruses have been found.”

There is another aerial spraying set for Saturday, although officials are concerned about rain and whether weather will allow them to fly. Experts said that spraying chemicals from the air is crucial.

At a meeting, local business owners expressed their concerns about chemicals dropped from the planes.

As for the Miami Beach Zika zone, there are challenges when it comes to preventative measures. Officials cannot spray from the air because of the tall buildings and chemicals getting into the water.

Florida Governor Rick Scott announced he will be back on Miami Beach, Friday, to hold a Zika roundtable discussion with business owners and tourism officials.

Control efforts in Miami Beach are expected to take place on the ground through the weekend.

Control officials also believe that the five new cases of Zika were contracted before the preventative measures were put into place.

After rainfall, mosquito crews have to monitor puddles for five to seven days for the mosquito larvae to hatch.

So far, a total of 43 locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus have been discovered, according to the CDC. An additional locally transmitted case of the disease was found in Palm Beach County, Wednesday.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced the latest Zika zone on Aug. 19. It’s a 1.5 square mile area in Miami Beach. 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.

In order to boost business in Wynwood, the City of Miami began offering free two-hour parking in the area. The free parking will remain in effect until Aug. 31.

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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