County Urges Residents to Protect Against Mosquitoes
The Florida Department of Health has reported six new cases of Zika in Florida that are travel-associated, bringing the total to nine for the state. Miami-Dade has four reported cases, Hillsborough has two, Lee has two and Santa Rosa has one.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Zika fever illness is generally mild with a rash, fever and joint pain. Symptoms may also include conjunctivitis (reddening of the eye), body aches, headache, eye pain and vomiting. There is no specific treatment of the virus and it typically resolves within a week. While it is acquired through the bite of an infected mosquito, perinatal and sexual transmission have also been reported.
Although these cases were not contracted in Florida, mosquito bites can still transfer dangerous mosquito-borne diseases, or arboviruses, including St. Louis encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus.
According to a release issued by the county, Santa Rosa mosquito technicians are currently monitoring the county’s mosquito traps and treating standing water such as holding ponds with larvicide. A native plains fish, gambusia affinis, is used to control mosquito larvae in wetlands. While larvae abatement is a year-round practice, spraying for adult mosquitoes generally begins in March or April – when temperatures begin to consistently stay above 60 degrees.
To help reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, remember the four Ds:
- DUSK to DAWN – the timeframe when mosquitoes are most active. Reduce or eliminate outdoor activity between dusk and dawn or take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
- DRAIN – standing water. Water found in old tires, flower pots, clogged rain gutters, leaky pipes and faucets, birdbaths and wading pools can be breeding sites for mosquitoes.
- DRESS – in light-colored, long sleeves and pants when you are outside, especially in mosquito-infested areas.
- DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) – if you are planning to be outside when mosquitoes are most active, be sure to apply insect repellant that contains DEET. Read and follow label instructions. Spray both exposed skin and clothing with repellent.
Residents are encouraged to help reduce the mosquito population by draining flower pots, watering cans, food bowls and any container which holds water. Moist leaves and organic matter also provide a perfect environment for mosquito larvae. By cleaning gutters and raking leaves, homeowners can stop the growth cycle. Residents may report areas of standing water, such as neglected or abandoned swimming pools by calling 850-981-7135.