Fighting mosquitoes during a pandemic

While much of the country focuses on the threat of COVID-19, other health concerns are going on the backburner – like stopping mosquito-borne illnesses.

Luckily, Florida is uniquely situated to handle both threats at the same time.

One thing you can count on here is mosquitoes, and Robin King with the Collier County Mosquito Control District said that hasn’t changed.

“We have one mosquito that is here 12 months out of the year,” she said. “That mosquito can carry yellow fever, Zika, dengue, chikungunya – I can keep going.”

That’s a problem, as research from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) shows that programs targeting mosquito populations are hurt by COVID-19 containment efforts.

“The Department of Health has stopped their testing of mosquitoes for disease because, of course, all of their focus is on COVID-19,” King said.

Her team is staying focused.

“We still are doing our treatment missions, we’re still out in the field collecting our traps. Our data is still incoming every 15 minutes from our electronic traps. Our data is reviewed on a daily basis…”

Dr. Chelsea Gridley Smith with NACCHO said the fact that our mosquito season never ends may also be the reason Southwest Florida is ready to respond.

“It’s likely due to the fact that they operate year-round,” she said.

“They don’t usually hire too many seasonal staff, or if they do … their programs don’t depend on it as much. They have full-time staff. You have a lot of mosquito control districts; you have really good coordination among the Florida Mosquito Control Association itself.”

One way you can help mosquito control efforts is by reporting hot spots online. In Collier County, you can do that by clicking here. In Lee County, click here, and in Charlotte County, visit this site.

It’s almost important to note that mosquitoes do not transmit the coronavirus.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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