Seasonal Rains Bring Threat of Disease Carrying Mosquitoes
While this year's mosquito population isn't expected to be worse than last year- Orange County officials say they are concerned about mosquito borne diseases, especially since Central Florida saw its first case of homegrown Dengue last fall.
[Orange County Mosquito Specialist Rosalina Rivera checks cemetary vases for larva]
“It’s perfect for them, in fact I see a ton of them, yeah, see all of those in there?” said Orange county Mosquito Control Specialist Rosalina Rivera as she examined a water sample she had just drawn. She was following up on a complaint about mosquitoes… which led her to the maintenance yard at Glen Haven Memorial Park, a large cemetery in Winter Park. A week of heavy rains left old tires, urns, vases and buckets filled with water and mosquito larvae. She's one of the county's 17 full time specialists who spend every day looking for potential breeding grounds, setting mosquito traps and treating standing water with bacteria lethal to mosquitoes. County Mosquito control division manager Tom Breaud says there are 40-some species of mosquitoes in Central Florida
“We’re never going to completely eliminate mosquitoes,” he said, while noting that
targeting breeding grounds can help reduce the number of mosquitoes which can spread diseases like West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Dengue
“Some of our products will allow us to pre-treat those areas where we know there are going to be mosquitoes,” he said.
Last fall, a case of dengue fever surfaced in Seminole County. That patient recovered, but Florida Department of Health Orange County Director Dr. Kevin Sherin says dengue is quite serious.
“In fact, one of the old names applied to it is breakbone fever, that’s how much you hurt when you have a Dengue infection,” he said.
The best protection against mosquitos is wearing long sleeves, long pants and using a repellant that contains DEET. You should also make sure you’re not breeding mosquitoes by eliminating all standing water. Rivera says that takes education.
“Some people have no clue what they’re looking at, and they can have a fountain that’s full of mosquito larvae,” she said.
Making a note of the time of day you get bitten can also help identify the variety of mosquito in your yard. Rivera said the county relies on people calling mosquito control to help them find new breeding grounds.