MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In Miami-Dade, the battle has begun.

May is not only the start of our ‘rainy’ season, but it’s also the unofficial start of mosquito season.

In the past few years, the county has gotten mosquito control down to a science and a campaign.

“Our message to visitors and all stakeholder remains the same, ‘fight the bite’ and ‘drain and cover’,” said Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Gimenez announced Tuesday morning that their plan this year is to be aggressive and proactive, and it’s already in effect.

The county is using a two-pronged attack when it comes to spraying. They use larvicides to kill the mosquitos before they become biting adults and they also spray to kill adult mosquitos where they live and breed.

They’re also keeping an eye on the Caribbean where mosquito-transmitted illnesses are circulating in high numbers.

“To see what species are where and the ones that cause the most problems,” said Gimenez.

In the years since 2016, when Miami-Dade became ground zero for the first local transmission in the continental US of the Zika virus, the budget for preparation and preparedness has increased tenfold to $13 million. The county has also tripled the number of people working in mosquito control.

In 2018, there were zero cases of local transmission of Zika and there have been none so far this year. Officials say in addition to Zika, they’re closely watching for emerging threats like Dengue and Yellow Fever.

“Miami is the hub for all of Central and South America and the Carribean, even if travelers are not staying here they’re generally coming through Miami,” said Dr. William Petrie, Miami-Dade’s Director of Mosquito and Habitat Management. “That’s the concern, that’s how these diseases move around, move around the globe.”

Nearly 200 mosquito traps have been placed throughout the county. The data gathered will allow mosquito control to developed targeted treatment to detect where breeding occurs.

Gimenez said while the spraying and data collection helps, prevention is the best plan and everyone can take part.

“Look mankind has never been able to defeat the mosquito. So we’re trying to reduce the number but also we have to take personal responsibility when we’re out,” said Gimenez. “Wear long sleeve shirts, bug spray, mosquito spray to keep them off so they don’t bite you.”

It’s also important to drain any items around your home that can collect and retain water.

Rielle Creighton

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