MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On Thursday, the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade announced seven new cases of the West Nile virus bringing the total number of infections in 2020 to 33.
“It’s definitely a cause for concern,” said Dr. Bill Petrie, the director of Miami-Dade County’s Mosquito Control. “It’s not a cause for panic, but it does cause us concern here at mosquito control.”
Dr. Petrie said the battle against the West Nile virus is the main thing his employees are focusing on right now.
“The concern is we know it’s circulating across the county, and with it being in birds it can be all over,” said Dr. Petrie.
West Nile virus, Dr. Petrie explained, is a complicated transmission and is essentially transmitted by birds. Most people who become infected with West Nile virus do not feel sick or have mild symptoms that subside in about a week. But, some people can develop serious and sometimes deadly illnesses. Because of that, Dr. Petrie and Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control are working to contain the virus as much as possible.
On Friday morning, CBS4 got an exclusive look at mosquito control’s battle against the West Nile virus.
The prime suspect for the virus, called a Southern House Mosquito, can breed anywhere, Dr. Petrie said. His teams focus primarily on the thousands of storm drains across Miami-Dade County. They spray a bacteria-based larvacide, known as BTI, that can kill mosquito larvae within hours. The pesticide does not affect humans or animals, only mosquito and black fly larvae.
Another critical step in containing the West Nile virus comes with identifying carriers and hot spots. Each week, employees at Miami-Dade’s Mosquito Control collect samples from the roughly 200 mosquito traps across the county. In a lab, technicians identify and log the mosquitos before sending them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing.
To prevent the West Nile virus, the Florida Department of Health and Mosquito Control says to drain standing water, cover exposed skin, and wear bug spray.
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