Heavy rainfall throughout South Florida in recent weeks has created a breeding ground for disease-spreading insects.
The Miami-Dade County Department of Health announced Thursday that two more residents have been infected with West Nile virus, bringing that county’s total to four cases for the year so far.
There are currently no reported cases in Broward or Palm Beach, but the presence of the mosquitoes that carry West Nile and Dengue fever is of concern to officials.
“It’s a problem when we have encephalitis, which is a swelling of the brain,” says Dr. Isik Unlu of Miami-Dade mosquito control. “That’s the part that is scary.”
Ahn Ton of Broward mosquito control adds, “The type of mosquito that carries that type of virus is prevalent in our area and already we’re seeing them popping up around our area.”
There is no evidence that suggests the mosquitoes can spread COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization, since coronavirus is a respiratory virus that spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose, not from blood.
“Right now, on average, we’re getting about 300-400 requests a day,” Ton explains. “During the slow season, just to put it in perspective, just a couple of months ago we were getting 20-30 requests a day.”
With more than 250 calls a day, Miami-Dade’s mosquito control teams are also trying to kill larvae before they hatch.
Adulticiding is the term used for killing adult mosquitoes.
Officials add that people need to protect themselves by getting rid of standing water and avoiding the outdoors during peak hours from sunrise to sunset. If you must be outside, try to wear protective clothing and use mosquito repellent.