Zika Fears In Florida Spark War Declaration On Mosquitoes

Zika Fears In Florida Spark War Declaration On Mosquitoes

Asian tiger mosquito closeup

The Asian tiger mosquito is one of the species that can transmit the Zika virus.
Photo by James Newman

In response to the first confirmed locally acquired cases of the Zika virus, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam issued a statewide mosquito declaration.

This mosquito declaration initiates aggressive mosquito control efforts within a minimum 200-yard radius around a locally acquired case patient’s home.

Advertisement

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has been testing mosquitoes from around the state and all samples have been negative for the Zika virus to date.

“We will continue to proactively work with federal, state and local officials to protect Floridians and visitors from Zika,” Putnam stated. “Floridians can do their part by draining standing water surrounding their homes, as it can serve as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that are capable of transmitting the virus.”

To date, the virus has been widespread in countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean.

Florida’s efforts, which are conducted by local mosquito control programs and supported by the expertise provided by FDACS, include:

  • eliminating larval habitats by emptying standing water,
  • treating water-holding containers with long-lasting larvicide, providing outdoor residential and spatial insecticide treatments to reduce adult vectors, and
  • conducting adult mosquito surveillance to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments.

While the Florida Department of Health is the lead agency in this public health crisis, FDACS has been supporting statewide efforts by:

  • providing technical assistance to mosquito control programs,
  • monitoring mosquito control activities across the state, training pest control companies,
  • distributing BG Sentinel traps used for surveillance throughout Florida, and
  • equipping the Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory with the tools needed to test mosquitoes for the presence of Zika.

With higher-risk occupations like farming in mind, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recently released guidelines on how to protect outdoor workers from the Zika virus. As part of the document, OSHA recommends employers train workers on how to protect themselves and about the importance of eliminating areas where mosquitoes breed on the work site. In addition, OSHA suggests employers provide insect repellents and protective clothing and encourage their use.