MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida’s rainy season is nearly upon us and that means mosquitos, lots of mosquitos, which is why local government and health officials met with Governor Rick Scott Monday to discuss the prevention of the spread of the Zika virus.
“The positive news,” said Governor Rick Scott, “We don’t have a zone right now and hopefully we don’t have a zone all this year or ever again but we have to be prepared.”
South Florida was ground zero for Zika in this country last summer and fall with Zika cases reported in sections of Wynwood and Miami Beach.
Gov. Scott met with community leaders Monday including Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado in a Zika roundtable to discuss what steps have been and will be taken in the fight against Zika as the rainy season approaches.
“Education, avoid the bite in areas where we know there are problem areas that are breeding mosquitoes and we are going to tackle those areas more aggressively,” said Mayor Gimenez.
Gimenez says the lesson learned from last year, be aggressive, that is the approach that is being taken this time around.
“We learned a lot last year, we amped up our mosquito control efforts here in Miami-Dade County adding 42 positions,” said Mayor Gimenez. “It’s to augment what the state is doing so can be on top of it and be aggressive in our fight.”
Statewide, labs have been increased with additional staff and family counseling is now available for children and families affected by Zika.
There’s also a new campaign to continue to educate the public on how to prepare to fight the bite including the importance of draining bromeliads.
Bromeliads can hold water between their leaves, making them a great place for mosquitoes to breed.
“This is a community that has a continuous influx of disease and we are doing whatever we can possibly do manage the vectors that transmit that disease,” explained Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak.
But Hudak says the public also has to do their part.
“It’s important that residents, commercial properties, construction sites, everybody and anybody in your home to do the simple things. It rained all weekend. Fight the bite, drain and cover. If you have standing water in your backyard, please clear your containers. That’s a critical message that we need out there.”
The last case of mosquito transmission of Zika in Florida was in December. Some 221 people got Zika from mosquitoes in the continental U.S. last year, most in the Miami area. There were six cases in Texas.
An additional 600 people, including 80 pregnant women, tested positive for the Zika virus in Florida in 2016, all contracted the virus while traveling abroad.
Zika can cause severe birth defects, including babies born with abnormally small heads. The mosquito-borne virus can also be transmitted sexually. People can be infected without getting sick.