Teams of mosquito control inspectors and a fleet of pickup trucks equipped with pesticide foggers are scheduled to fan out Saturday morning across a one-square-mile zone in Miami’s Little River neighborhood identified this week as having active spread of Zika, county officials said.
At least five people have contracted Zika in the identified zone, said the Florida Department of Health, which on Friday reported one more mosquito-borne infection in an undisclosed area of Miami-Dade requiring an epidemiological investigation to determine the source of exposure.
A total of 164 people have contracted Zika this year in Miami-Dade, which remains the only county in the nation where mosquitoes are spreading the virus. A second active zone is a 4.5-square-mile area of Miami Beach identified in August and September. A third Zika zone in Miami’s Wynwood district was cleared in September after 45 days with no new cases.
The new Zika zone identified this week straddles Little River, Little Haiti and Liberty City. The neighborhood is densely populated, with churches and parks and schools nearby, a mix of single-family homes and apartment buildings, and busy stretches of auto body shops and repair yards, storefront restaurants and markets, and litter-strewn vacant lots — welcome environments for mosquitoes that spread Zika.
County crews were in the area Friday morning to spray pesticides and look for mosquito breeding grounds around homes and businesses, said Gayle Love, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade mosquito control.
Love said a county-owned trap located about six blocks north and east of the new zone in Miami had detected higher-than-expected counts during the four weeks ending on Sept. 29, the most-recent period available. The average weekly count, she said, was 16.8 mosquitoes in the trap.
“Anything higher than a 10 triggers a response,” she said. That response includes more inspections and spraying, Love said, though county crews already were working in Miami’s new Zika zone before this week because the health department had referred cases in the area to mosquito control.
Love said that as long as the weather permits, truck-mounted foggers will spray the insecticide DeltAGard in the area on Saturday morning.
There had been no traps within the new Zika zone until Friday, when crews placed five traps in the area. What lands in those traps will help determine whether the area will get aerial spraying.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said city officials are concerned about the virus spreading in a neighborhood with so many residents and communal areas.
“That area,” he said Friday, “it’s more critical than Wynwood because it has more residents. My concern is that you have several areas of apartment buildings, some of them are HUD, some of them are affordable, some of them are private, and there is more density.”
It’s more critical than Wynwood because it has more residents.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado speaking of Little River area
Derrick Williams, a longtime resident and founder of the Little River Homeowners Improvement Association, said neighbors would be spreading the word to dump containers with standing water, clean clutter from yards and take other steps to reduce mosquito numbers and prevent bites.
“We are rallying now and will be this weekend,” he said, “to make sure we’re getting to overgrown grass and other potential breeding grounds. Most of our homes are in order.”
Williams said he had not heard from anyone in the neighborhood who was opposed to aerial spraying of naled, a neurotoxin and pesticide, to knock down mosquito numbers in the area.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aerial spraying of naled and another pesticide that kills mosquito larvae helped to dramatically reduce the spread of Zika in Wynwood, though at least one local biologist questioned the effectiveness of the air attack.
Aerial spraying of naled also has taken place over Miami Beach, triggering protests from area residents opposed to the pesticide.
“We would hope that they would take this area as seriously as they did Wynwood and South Beach,” Williams said.
Zika cases reported in Florida as of Oct. 14
Number of Cases
Total cases not involving pregnant women
Cases involving pregnant women regardless of symptoms*
* Counties of pregnant women not identified
** Does not include local cases
Source: Florida Department of Health