Gardens strengthens mosquito-fighting efforts in face of Zika

Palm Beach Gardens is increasing its mosquito-prevention efforts after two Palm Beach County residents have obtained the Zika virus locally.

No Zika cases have been reported in Palm Beach Gardens.

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The city conducts routine spraying every year but decided to add a treatment using a pesticide called Duet recommended for combating Zika-carrying mosquitoes. Public works employees will start spraying Monday and continue, weather-permitting, until Friday. It takes five days to spray the city.

Each spray occurs between dusk and 10 p.m.

This week, employees used Naturlar T-30 tablets on catch basins, ponding grass areas and manholes targeting mosquito larvae. The city is printing signs with tips about how people can protect themselves from Zika to display in parks and public buildings, spokeswoman Candice Temple said.

“As we’re monitoring, we’re seeing that it’s moving closer and closer to our area. We just wanted to be more proactive,” she said.

The city does two rounds of routine spraying each year during the summer. Because of the rain, there was a third round of spraying this year, Temple said. The extra effort for Zika will be the fourth.

The treatment effective at fighting Zika-carrying mosquitoes costs almost three times as much as the regular treatment. The chemical used for the other three rounds of spraying, Anvil 2+2 ULV, costs $3,463 for 55 gallons. Duet costs $10,258.

Palm Beach Gardens is also providing Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus for city employees, especially those who work outside, and children at the Riverside Youth Enrichment Center to put on before they go outside to play.

The first Palm Beach County Zika case was made public Aug. 8. No information about the person — including where he or she lives — was made available, except the infection likely occurred during a visit to Wynwood, an arts district north of downtown Miami.

A 24-year-old Lake Worth woman was confirmed Aug. 24 as the second Palm Beach County resident to contract the virus from a local mosquito. She said she hasn’t traveled outside of Palm Beach County in months. The cases are not related, according to state health officials.

Palm Beach Gardens established a Zika information hotline at (561) 630-1112.

A team that included the police and fire chiefs, human resources director and director of public services and emergency management was activated last week, Temple said. There was some public concern, including an inquiry on the city’s online request system.

With two confirmed cases in Palm Beach County, Palm Beach Gardens officials wanted to conduct a “rigorous” spraying schedule and provide residents with as much information as possible, Mayor Marcie Tinsley said.

“I hope our neighboring cities will follow suit and help create a united front to combating this serious issue,” she said.

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