Palm Beach County’s Mosquito Control Division said Wednesday that it is ready to take immediate action if the dengue fever outbreak in Martin County spreads south across the county line.
In an email to county administrators, Mosquito Control Director Ed Bradford said his division was “closely monitoring” the Martin County outbreak.
“We presently have a plan in place to react immediately should a case occur within Palm Beach County borders,” Bradford wrote in the email. “Our division will work closely with the health department as we have in the past to coordinate and implement an effort of ground and aerial spraying, door to door resident inspection program, and public education via the news media to combat the mosquito borne virus should it appear.”
The twilight-biting Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for spreading dengue fever. It is known as a “container mosquito” because it typically breeds in pools of standing water in urban areas, said Rob Robbins, director of the county’s Environmental Resources Management Department.
As a result, aerial spraying is not as effective in controlling their population, Robbins said.
County officials say it is critical that residents drain or minimize standing water on their property to limit the mosquito’s presence here.
“The most significant thing we can do is to get the word out to get rid of standing water,” Robbins said.
Seven people in Martin and St. Lucie counties have been infected with a strain of dengue fever in recent weeks. Several more are awaiting test results, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Dengue fever causes flu-like symptoms that include severe body aches, high fever and a fine rash. The most severe form leads to bleeding, shock and sometimes death.
Palm Beach County has several areas where it traps and monitors mosquito populations. Robbins said if officials see signs of the Aedes aegypti, the division will beef up its efforts to reduce the population in those areas.