MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — Trucks sprayed parts of Miami Beach early Tuesday morning aiming to control the spread of the Zika virus.
The Buffalo Turbine trucks were mounted with Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis (Bti) – an environmentally-friendly organic compound.
“BTI is eaten by the mosquito and it essentially destroys their digestive tract so the larva don’t survive till adulthood it’s very specific and contact with humans is very limited whereas Naled is a lot more visible and it is more powerful so to speak,” said Tanjim Hossain, NSF Graduate at the University of Miami.
The truck spraying – along with aerial spraying set to begin Thursday – is being used to provide better coverage in targeting breeding areas and to reduce the mosquito population in the Zika zones between 8th and 28th Streets.
Another truck spraying session is scheduled from late Tuesday to early Wednesday just East of Washington Avenue between the hours of 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.
The ramped up spraying comes a week after some mosquitoes in Miami Beach tested positive for the Zika virus – a first in the continental U.S. Miami Beach Botanical Garden was shut down following the discovery but reopened Tuesday after spraying and removal of more than 2000 bromeliad plants which would gather standing water, creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes. It’s something they said was for public safety.
“They never said to close our doors but we are being proactive and do not want anyone in danger while we are doing our landscape work,” said Sandy Shapiro with the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
The virus is a concern when it comes to public health considering Zika has been linked to severe birth defects in children born from mothers who contracted the virus.
On Tuesday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement saying in part, “Miami-Dade County’s Mosquito Control team continues to monitor the number of mosquitoes found in traps throughout the County. As it has been from the beginning, our goal is to reduce the cycle of Zika transmission by reducing the number of mosquitoes.”
For the concerned public, health department workers will be at the Miami Beach Police Department Tuesday giving free Zika screening tests to anyone in the local transmission zones. They will be there from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.
At last check, there were 56 non-travel related cases of the virus in Florida and 577 travel-related cases. Eighty pregnant women in the state have been infected with Zika.
So far, the local transmission zones are the following:
- Wynwood Area – NW 22nd St. at the South, NE 2nd Ave to NE 23rd St. at the east; NW 3rd Ave to the west; and NE 36th St to the north.
- Miami Beach Area – 28th Street to the north, 8th Street to the south, intercoastal water to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.