Health Care

Friday flight planned to spray for Zika mosquitoes

Miami-Dade County plans to send up a plane to spray the insecticide naled on Friday morning.
Miami-Dade County plans to send up a plane to spray the insecticide naled on Friday morning. TNS

Miami-Dade County plans to spray insecticide early Friday over the Wynwood arts district where health officials say the Zika virus outbreak is centered.

The flight is planned for 6 a.m. and is expected to mist the insecticide naled over a 10-square-mile area, according to the county’s mosquito control division website. The insecticide has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it can be hazardous to wildlife, particularly wild bees that help pollinate crops.

In Puerto Rico, where up to 1,500 new Zika cases a week are being reported, plans to spray naled triggered protests and prompted the governor, who called it environmental terrorism, to block spraying. The European Union also banned naled in 2005.

I don’t care what CDC says. It’s bad stuff.

Dennis Olle, board member of North American Butterfly Association’s Miami chapter

“I don’t care what CDC says. It’s bad stuff,” said Dennis Olle, an attorney and board member for the Miami chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. “It’s one thing to call in air strikes. But it’s generally ineffective.”

That’s because the virus-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito, a breed that has vexed mosquito control efforts for decades, generally flies low to the ground and breeds in hard to reach containers, he said.

As Miami-Dade mosquito inspectors continue to spray the Zika infested areas of Wynwood, Miami Police also lent a hand on Tuesday, passing out mosquito spray to homeless people in the area.

But CDC director Tom Frieden said misting areas with naled where the Aedes aegypti mosquito is actively transmitting the Zika virus is one of the few ways health officials have of quickly tamping down large numbers of mosquitoes. Florida officials sprayed more than 8 million acres across the state after the busy 2004 hurricane season left mounds of debris where the mosquitoes breed. Mosquito officials also say that they use a small amount, less than an ounce per acre, and that they spray early in the morning, when female mosquitoes are emerging for the day.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, details anti-Zika virus efforts, during a news conference on Aug. 4, 2016, at the Miami-Dade County Emergency Operations Center

In February and March, the CDC tested 14 different populations of the mosquito in Puerto Rico and found that the insecticide killed 100 percent of the female mosquitoes that bite and transmit the virus, the EPA reported.

These results, combined with the success of aerial trials with naled in Florida, are compelling reasons to use aerial application of naled for the current Zika emergency situation.

EPA statement on naled

“These results, combined with the success of aerial trials with naled in Florida, are compelling reasons to use aerial application of naled for the current Zika emergency situation,” the EPA said.

The agency says the insecticide poses no risk for the majority of people, but those sensitive to chemicals may want to stay inside during spraying, close windows and turn off window air conditioners. Fruits and vegetables should also be washed before eating and outdoor furniture and grills covered.

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