Health Concerns After Mosquito Infestation In Florida After Ian

As a result of hurricane Ian, Florida is dealing with a mosquito infestation, which raises health concerns regarding West Nile virus, mould, and mildew.

As people are already facing many other hazards in the wake of hurricane Ian, mosquitoes are adding another layer of complexity.

“They’re here. They’re thick. Fortunately for me, I have air conditioning, so I’m inside trying to dry out from the inside out,” said Steve Zaubi, an Isle of Capri resident.

As the deputy director of the Mosquito Control District, Eric Jackson knows mosquitoes and hurricanes but never anything like the devastation in his town.

Anyone who’s been to Florida knows that some mosquito control is happening because otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.” “You’re seeing that there’s just so much debris on the roadsides and stuff waiting to be collected,” Jackson said. There are places where mosquitoes can lay their eggs, and they can grow. They’re everywhere, and they’re everywhere.”

It’s more than just an annoyance to deal with them.

There’s a lot of water out there where the mosquito that lays its eggs on the water is a vector of the West Nile virus.

Volusia County issued a West Nile virus alert on the east coast of Florida before Ian.

Jackson said the biggest concern is getting out there and knocking down those mosquitoes as quickly as possible so we don’t have an issue.

There is a lot of new standing water in these areas. That matters.

It’s not a problem for mosquitoes when there’s always water in the place because usually, there are fish and other creatures in there that are eating up the mosquito larvae. It’s the temporary places where it was dry before. Now it’s full of water,” Jackson said.

As a result, mosquitoes have a perfect breeding ground. Jackson’s team is on the scene with its entire fleet.

Jackson said, “We work all day, we fly at night, and we travel through the weekend.”

In addition to surveillance and trapping, they use air and ground treatment.

“It’s a tiny droplet that spins through the air and falls on the mosquito’s exoskeleton as it’s flying,” Jackson explained.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t attack mosquitoes that are about to hatch. And rain and debris collecting that rain can mean even more. The storm also means mosquito control will be a challenge in the future.

We had learned where mosquitoes grow on the island based on tides and low spots for years, but that’s changed now. There could be places now where mosquitoes are bred that weren’t before. Jackson said, “It is really going to be about relearning those areas and figuring out how this storm has impacted where these mosquitoes are going to grow, not just now, but in the future.”

In addition to mosquitoes, Ian brought high storm surges that contaminated waterways and caused mould and mildew to grow in low-lying areas.

“The island drained it relatively quickly, but there’s still a lot of standing water. And unfortunately, the humidity too. So now you need to deal with mold, particularly inside the buildings. Food and other things in refrigerators are just thrown out, or they pile them up on the streets. As a result, you’ve got an environment that doesn’t seem conducive to a healthy environment,” said Zaubi.

To reduce one of those health risks, crews like Jackson’s operate from the air and beyond.