Mosquito experts to hold briefing on diseases weeks after Hurricane Idalia

Mosquito experts from across the state will hold a video briefing Tuesday to discuss their efforts to keep mosquito populations from expanding.

Officials were concerned during Hurricane Idalia last week because storm surge and standing water might create an ideal habitat for them to breed.

Malaria had not been observed in Florida in 20 years until last year. Sarasota County reported seven locally acquired instances of the disease in mid-July, and officials warned at the time that it would take four to six weeks to kill off the virus-carrying mosquitos and stop the spread.

Now, two months later, officials are on high alert again.

“It’s really important for us to monitor for mosquito-borne disease,” said Adriane Rogers, the Executive Director for Pasco County Mosquito Control.

“We have a program with chickens — we are actively monitoring every week just to see if we have virus in any particular area.”

Rogers stated that blood is drawn from the chickens on a weekly basis to test for several types of Encephalitis – a virus that causes inflammation in the brain and spinal cord.

To kill mosquito larvae, crews also spray a granular substance into any standing water. Helicopters can also perform this from the air.

When it comes to mosquito population control, Rogers believes that no habitat is too small – any form of container would suffice.

Dengue fever and malaria are some of the diseases officials worry about, too. According to the Florida Department of Health, last week, between September 3 and the 9, there were no locally acquired cases of malaria, just the seven from over the summer.

The same goes for dengue fever, although 23 locally acquired cases have been reported this year so far. 

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