77ºF

Broward County begins mosquito spraying in battle against Zika virus

BTI ingredient being used in aerial spraying over 5 municipalities

PLANTATION, Fla. – Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar said aerial mosquito spraying has begun in the ongoing battle against the Zika virus.

Kiar announced Friday that aerial spraying will be conducted Monday morning in five Broward County municipalities -- Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Pembroke Pines, Tamarac and Margate. Spraying will also be conducted over an area of unincorporated central Broward County.

Although there are no locally acquired cases of the Zika virus in Broward County, Kiar said the spraying is being done as a proactive measure to prevent the spread of the mosquito-borne virus.

"What's happened in Miami-Dade (County) has been very scary," Kiar told Local 10 News. "Not only has it been a danger to its residents, but it's my understanding that their local economy, their tourism, is suffering as a result of it, and we don't want that to happen here in Broward."

The spraying is a preventative measure using a product called VectoBac WDG. The active ingredient is BTI.

Anh Ton, director of Broward County's Mosquito Control Section, said it is very different from Naled, the controversial pesticide being used in Miami Beach.

"It's found naturally in the ground," Ton said. "It's an organic material that can be spread over an organic farm. It's been used in the Florida Keys for a number of years over environmental-sensitive land."

The substance targets larvae before it hatches, whereas Naled is used to kill adult mosquitoes.

"I've looked into BTI," Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober said. "I believe that this is a safe activity to be conducted, and I am glad to know that the biggest criticism of BTI is that it's not strong enough."

The areas being sprayed were identified because it's where the 105 residents who have tested positive for the Zika virus live, and is also where the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are found.

A helicopter will spray for mosquitoes between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Monday.