Mosquito Protection: What You Need to Know
The following, based on information from the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, is provided to address any questions:
- Mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika are viral diseases primarily transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a freshwater breed common to the southeastern United States, the Bahamas, Caribbean, Central and South America as well as other tropical and subtropical locations. These diseases are not normally spread person-to-person. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that Zika is normally transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, although sexual transmission is also possible.
- According to the CDC, most people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms and for those who do, the illness is usually mild. However, Zika poses the greatest risk to pregnant women and their developing fetuses because it is known to cause severe birth defects and neurological disorders.
- There have been nine travel-related cases of Zika in the Florida Keys meaning that the patients acquired the virus when traveling outside of the United States. There is no evidence of active transmission in the Keys at this time, according to the region's health director Bob Eadie.
- There are no local, state, federal or international advisories discouraging travel to anywhere in the Florida Keys.
- Whenever a suspect case of Zika is investigated, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District enacts aggresive anti-transmision protocols around the person's residence and business.
- Health officials are asking the public to be aware of the disease. The Centers for Disease Control has issued an advisory counseling pregnant women to avoid traveling to a number of Zika-affected countries and territories including Cape Verde, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, the Pacific Islands and South America. Go to the CDC website for additional details.
- Traditionally in Florida, mosquitoes are most active in summer and early fall and more dormant in late fall through spring.
- To help avoid being bitten by Aedes aegypti or other mosquito species, health and mosquito control officials advise using mosquito repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. DEET is not recommended for use on children younger than 2 months old. Wearing permethrin-treated long-sleeved shirts and pants, when comfortable to do so, provides additional protection. When inside, close windows and use air conditioning. Or, if windows are open, check screens to ensure there are no holes.
- The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has an aggressive mosquito suppression and abatement program, with an annual operating budget of around $11 million. New technologies used include aerial application of an innovative larvicide that targets the mosquito larvae and stops them from reaching adulthood. The larvicide is non-toxic to humans and animals.
- People are advised to eliminate standing water in yards and gardens, where mosquitoes like to breed, in containers that can retain rainwater such as coolers, flower pots or buckets.
Information updated Friday, Dec. 9, 2016, at 5 p.m.