In response to the continental United States’ first locally acquired cases of Zika confirmed Friday in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam issued a statewide mosquito declaration. This mosquito declaration initiates aggressive mosquito control efforts within a minimum 200-yard radius around a locally acquired case patient’s home.
Florida is the nation’s first state with a locally transmitted case of the Zika virus, Gov. Rick Scott said at a news conference Friday morning. The Zika virus has been linked to unusually small heads and brain damage in newborns — called microcephaly — in children born to infected mothers, as well as other congenital defects.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been testing mosquitoes from around the state at the Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, and all samples have been negative for the Zika virus to date.
“We will continue to proactively work with federal, state and local officials to protect Floridians and visitors from Zika,” Putnam said. “Floridians can do their part by draining standing water surrounding their homes, as it can serve as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that are capable of transmitting the virus.”
While the virus has been widespread in countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean, this declaration is consistent with Florida’s proactive approach in combating Zika.
Florida’s efforts, which are conducted by local mosquito control programs and supported by the expertise provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, include: eliminating larval habitats by emptying standing water, treating water-holding containers with long-lasting larvicide, providing outdoor residential and spatial insecticide treatments to reduce adult vectors, and conducting adult mosquito surveillance to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments.
While the Florida Department of Health is the lead agency in this public health crisis, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been supporting statewide efforts by: providing technical assistance to mosquito control programs, monitoring mosquito control activities across the state, training pest control companies, distributing BG Sentinel traps used for surveillance throughout Florida, and equipping the Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory with the tools needed to test mosquitoes for the presence of Zika.
On February 2, 2016, the Florida Surgeon General declared a public health emergency in regards to the Zika virus. Floridians can assist in Zika-related response efforts by draining standing water and allowing officials who are conducting mosquito control efforts to access their property.
To access a copy of the mosquito declaration, click here.
For more information on the Zika virus, visit the Florida Department of Health’s website at FloridaHealth.gov.