Idalia aftermath raises concerns of increased mosquito-borne illness risks

Health officials in Florida are warning residents about the increased risk of mosquito-borne illnesses following the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia. While the health alert for malaria has been lifted, the heavy rainfall and flooding caused by the hurricane have created new breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Additionally, the storm has forced more people to spend time outdoors repairing the damage, further exposing them to mosquito bites.

Over the past few weeks, extensive mosquito mitigation efforts have been underway in Manatee and Sarasota counties, where seven cases of malaria have been reported this summer. The Florida Mosquito Control Association (FMCA) has played a key role in combating the pest population through various methods, including the use of larvacide, helicopter sprays, the introduction of 16,000 mosquito fish, and treatment along 600 miles of roads.

While caution is still necessary, officials are hopeful that the situation is improving. Wade Brennan, the director of the Sarasota County Mosquito Control District, expressed his optimism, saying, “That’s great news for Sarasota, the whole state — and the residents of our two counties. This doesn’t mean we’re out of the water. We want everyone to be very vigilant about stopping those mosquito bites — but it gives us good news.”

Efforts to control the mosquito population in affected areas are already underway, the FMCA announced. Sandra Fisher-Grainger, the president of FMCA, highlighted the association’s proactive approach, stating, “When we know a hurricane is coming, we address that storm before and after it strikes by doing pretreatments then checking on our breeding sites after it’s over.”

The concern is particularly high in the swampy and rural regions of the Big Bend, where Hurricane Idalia caused the most significant impact. However, officials emphasize that the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses exists wherever mosquitoes are present, and they strongly recommend taking protective measures such as using CDC-approved bug spray.

For the latest updates and information on mosquito-related health concerns in Florida, residents can visit the state’s website. Stay informed and stay safe!

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