Miami Beach Locals, Leaders At Odds Over Naled Use In Zika Fight

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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — Spraying for Zika has been going on for a while in Miami Beach but only by ground. That will change on Thursday. 

Aerial spraying using the chemical Naled will start at 5 a.m. Thursday morning, like we’ve seen for weeks in Wynwood.

“I obviously am not comfortable with it,” said Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

The mayor is not happy about it; however, he says, based on what the experts tell him, it must be done.

Related: Trucks Take On Zika In Miami Beach

Over the weekend, the number of mosquitos caught in traps went up – meaning the population is growing.

“It came from the strong recommendation, from what we’ve been told, by the CDC, as well as the surgeon general, the Department of Agriculture and that decision, truly is solely made by the governor of the state of Florida,” said Levine.

What has many concerned is the chemical Naled, that is dropped from the plane. Many worry it’s dangerous and poses health risks. In this case, it will be spread offshore, then waft over land.

“In Europe, it’s completely forbidden and there’s a reason for it,” said Miami Beach resident Marc Schmidt.

Miami Beach City Commissioner Michael Grieco is furious that Miami Beach had no say over what will be sprayed there.

“Having a neurotoxin sprayed across the entire city or even in small little areas is not something that folks want,” said Grieco. “There are plenty of studies out there that have indicated that this could have short-term or long-term impact on adults, children pets, animals, insects, things like that.”

Mike Hernandez, a spokesperson for Mayor Carlos Gimenez, said Gimenez was called Friday by Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers For Disease Control (CDC)who made it “very, very clear that you will aerial spray on Miami Beach.”

Hernandez said that Mayor Gimenez has been told by the CDC, the Florida Department of Health, The Florida Surgeon General and the State Department of Agriculture that the aerial spraying is absolutely necessary.

Hernandez said the mayor has no plans to second guess those much more expert than he on the aerial spraying issue.

Experts say the amount of Naled is so low, it’s not harmful. The chemical sprayed by trucks in Miami Beach is Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis (Bti) and it’s organic.

“It’s eaten by the mosquito larvae and it essentially destroys their digestive system, so mosquito larvae don’t survive till adulthood,” said Tanjim Hossain with the University of Miami.

The Miami Beach Botanical Garden is where a mosquito tested positive for Zika. That was announced last week. It re-opened after being closed for a week after pulling plants that collect water.

“I think it’s good they’re taking precautions before anything bad happens,” said Elisa Menter who enjoys gardens.

While the fight over spraying goes on in South Florida, the fight over funding ramps up in Washington.

Congress is back in session after taking a summer vacation without funding the fight against Zika.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is hoping it will pass nearly $2 billion in funding.  Some of that money could go toward the $10 million already spent by Miami-Dade County to fight the virus.  It will also reimburse cities, municipalities and the state and counties for all the money they’ve been undertaking, whether for spraying or going door to door educating people.

Click here for more information on the Zika virus or here for more Zika-related stories.

More from Ted Scouten

One Comment

  1. Beau says:

    Oxitec’s genetically engineered mosquitos (spliced with protein fragments from the herpes virus, e coli bacteria, coral and cabbage, named OX513A) are designed to mate with Zika infected females. In this process the fetus should perish before being born by inserting a pest control gene called tetracycline (tTAV, commonly used as an antibiotic in livestock) into the mosquito causing the insect to not survive to adulthood. tTAV acts as a switch to control the activity of other genes. Here is where the science is flawed: the now genetically engineered males impregnate the Zika females, leaving their offspring to feed off foods rich with tTAV in their local environment. Henceforth keeping the genetically engineered offspring alive. In essence, creating a new genetically modified “Franken-mosquito” with likely worse affects than simple Zika-infected mosquitoes.

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