Public health officials in Florida issue mosquito-borne illnesses alerts

Mosquito risks increase during hurricane season, experts say

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Public health officials have been warning Floridians about the increased risk of mosquito bites during this very active hurricane season.

After a hurricane strikes — whether it’s through rain or storm surge flooding — mosquitoes quickly become a problem. Sandra Fisher-Grainger recently said this is one of the causal connections to mosquito-borne diseases.

Fisher-Grainger is the president of the Florida Mosquito Control Association, a nonprofit organization for specialists in the fields of public health, entomology, medicine, military, and engineering.

“Through climate change, the ease of travel, more trade, that’s just making it easier,” said Fisher-Grainger, who also serves as Hernando County’s mosquito control director.

Hurricane Idalia, a powerful Category 4, caused flooding in areas of Hernando County in August, and debris removal was a challenge. Fisher-Grainger said there is always something new to learn.

“Just under a dozen new species in Florida have been discovered in the last 10 years,” she said.

Phil Goodman, Wade Brennan, and Casey Parker-Crockett share Fisher-Grainger’s passion for a multi-strategy approach to controlling the bad bugs.

“In the keys, our public enemy number one is the Aedes aegypti mosquito which is the one that transmits dengue fever,” said Goodman, the chairman of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.

Five locally acquired dengue cases in less than a month recently prompted state health officials to put both Broward and Miami-Dade counties under alert. An advisory alert for Malaria was recently lifted in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

“Seven human cases is a situation we don’t like to be in, but I feel we were able to aggressively attack it,” said Brennan, the manager of Sarasota County Mosquito Management Services.

Parker-Crockett studied how Zika-infected mosquitoes harbored insecticide resistance and published her research in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

“We’re never going to get rid of all of them, but there are hundreds, literally hundreds of really smart, well-trained, passionate professionals that are all working to make sure that Florida remains a really wonderful place to live in and visit,” Parker-Crockett said.

For more information about how to control mosquitoes at home, visit this U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page. For more information about how to prevent mosquito bites, visit this CDC page.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.

About the Author:

Layron Livingston made the move from Ohio's Miami Valley to Miami, Florida, to join the Local 10 News team.