81ºF

Aerial mosquito spraying delayed in Miami-Dade County due to weather

15 locally acquired Zika virus cases reported in South Florida


MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes was postponed Wednesday in Miami-Dade County because of the rainy weather.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez directed the county's Mosquito Control team on Tuesday to begin larvicide and adulticide aerial spraying in the 10-square-mile area where locally acquired cases of the Zika virus have been reported or are being investigated, but weather conditions Wednesday are preventing the spraying.

Gimenez released a statement Wednesday, saying that the county will make another aerial spraying attempt Thursday morning, weather permitting.

"Crews will continue to work on the ground (Wednesday) in the affected area, and will respond to service requests and any requests from the Florida Department of Health," Gimenez said. "I thank our residents for continuing to do their part to protect all Miamians and our visitors by draining standing water, using mosquito repellent and covering up when going outdoors, especially during early morning and evening hours."

Crews were indeed working on the ground, draining standing water and even pumping it out of storm drains in the Wynwood area.

Some experts think the work on the ground is the most important, because aerial spraying targets mostly high-flying mosquitoes and the aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which spread Zika, prefer to stay around wet areas lower to the ground.

Health officials said three new travel-related cases for the Zika virus were reported Tuesday in Miami-Dade County, and one new non-travel-related case.

That brings the total number of locally acquired infections to 15.

The area of concentration is in Wynwood, between Northwest Fifth Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard to Northwest 38th Street and Northwest 20th Street.

Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes said some officers might be transferred from the Wynwood area if they are considering pregnancy.

"We will make reasonable accommodations on an as needed individual basis. This after consultation with our health and human resource professionals," Llanes said in a statement. "There will be no transfers on a scare or based on rumor or misinformation."

Despite the risk of Zika, visitors to the area keep pouring in and say that the virus shouldn't scare everyone away.

"I think you need to protect yourself, but it's beautiful down here," one tourist, Aubrey Turner, said.

The Florida Department of Health reports that more than 200 people in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have been tested for the virus because they live or work near the individuals who have been confirmed with likely mosquito-borne transmissions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued a travel advisory warning pregnant women to stay away from Miami's Wynwood neighborhood because of the Zika virus threat.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was in Doral Wednesday, urging the federal government to give the state more funding to stop the spread of Zika.

"I just want the money to flow," Rubio said. "I understand that everyone wants to focus on the congressional process and it's valid. Let's talk about it. But please, let's not lose focus that there are $300 million sitting there waiting to be spent and the president refuses to spend it. Why? Let's get moving on the money they have access to right now."

Rubio's comments came as the Obama administration is warning that money to fight the Zika virus is on the verge of running out amid a political stalemate on Capitol Hill.

The secretary of Health and Human Services said the National Institutes of Health will exhaust its resources for vaccine development by month's end.

The letter from HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell says that without additional money the second phase of clinical trials will be delayed, and Americans will have to wait longer for a vaccine.

Congress never acted on President Barack Obama's emergency spending request.

According to the CDC, the Zika virus typically causes a mild rash, fever and joint pain. Only one in five people infected with the virus are symptomatic.

Since earlier this year, Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong has advised Floridians to drain standing water, no matter how seemingly small. He said just a couple of drops of water in a bottle cap can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

More than 2,300 people statewide have been tested for the virus.


About the Authors: