MIAMI (CBSMiami) – While snowbirds fly south for the winter, mosquitoes do not. The pesky critters are staying home for the holidays, so those who are planning on spending time outdoors enjoying the cooler weather should wear mosquito repellent.
Miami-Dade County remains under a mosquito-borne illness alert after an 11th case of Dengue fever was confirmed this week.
Dengue is spread, mostly by the aedes aegypti mosquito. It’s the kind that loves to hang out along-side humans.
“It bites during the day, whereas most mosquitos come out at night. It only breeds around humans. It doesn’t breed in the bush or in trees or in the Everglades, it only breeds around human habitation. And it only bites humans,” said Dr. William Petrie with Miami-Dade Mosquito Control.
Many people who have Dengue may not realize it. Symptoms are normally mild, maybe feeling like a cold. It’s spread by a mosquito first biting an infected person — then passing it on.
Dengue fever can present itself as a flu-like illness with muscle aches, pain, fever, headache, eye pain, and sometimes a rash. The symptoms appear within 14 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito and can last for up to a week.
There are no vaccines to prevent infection. The CDC says that early recognition and treatment can “substantially lower the risk of medical complications and death.”
So how do you fight back against the buzzing biters?
“Regardless of the season, one should always be mindful to eliminate breeding sources found around the home, which commonly occur in the form of standing water. It is also a good idea to use a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved mosquito repellent when venturing outside during peak mosquito hours, typically dusk to dawn,” said Dr. Petrie.
Here are some other tips:
- Cover windows, doors and porches with screens.
- Make sure existing screens are kept in a good state of repair.
- Keep rain gutters free and clear of debris.
- Fill in tree holes.
- Use mosquito netting over cribs.
- Discard unused objects that may collect water in your yard (old tires, broken appliances, planters).
- Replace the water in outdoor pet dishes and birdbaths often.
- Use the larvicide Bti in dunk form for fountains and in granule form in bromeliads.
- Maintain your pool’s chemistry at recommended levels.
- Properly store kiddie pools when not in use.
- Use long-sleeved clothing, pants, socks and hats to protect exposed skin.
Miami-Dade Mosquito Control also monitors mosquito populations with more than 180 surveillance traps and has a team of lab techs who carefully sorts, counts and logs information about the species collected. There are regular truck larviciding routes, expanded for the busy, rainy season, and a protective protocol in place for when the Florida Department of Health first identifies suspected and then confirms cases of mosquito-borne diseases.