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  • Harvey Gov’t Center Meeting– Community Involvement a Must to Fight Dengue in Key West –

    May 17, 2011


    Key West welcomed Duane Gublar, one the world’s top experts on tropical diseases, to speak about his experiences with dengue during a forum at the Harvey Government Center on May 17th. Gublar has 40 years of experience working with emerging infectious diseases and sees dengue as a growing problem in tropical areas. With the convenience of air travel, cruise ships and a global economy, infectious diseases can cross the globe in 24 hours. An audience of 70 people greeted Gublar with a variety of questions and concerns. Duane Gublar expressed that dengue has the best chance to be eliminated Key West than anywhere with its location, size and outstanding Mosquito Control program. Tom Hampton, an Old Town resident who contracted dengue in 2010, shared his experience with the virus. Dr. Whiteside, Medical Director for the Monroe County Health Department, was also part of the 3-person forum about dengue and encouraged people to minimize their exposure to mosquitoes. Bob Eadie, Director of the Monroe Country Health Dept., was simple in his direction to the audience, “No mosquitoes, no dengue”. Educating homeowners about leaving no standing water has been the priority of all the agencies involved with the ABCD campaign.

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    Florida Keys Mosquito Control has been working with the Health Department on the ABCD Campaign, “Action to Break the Cycle of Dengue”. A massive cleanup effort was conducted with 22 FKMCD employees participating on the removal of trash around the island and potential water-holding containers. The Cleanup was an attempt to encourage public awareness about dengue and motivate residents to check around their own yards for potential breeding sites.

    During the end of 2010, FKMCD started using a liquid formulation of B.t.i to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito aerially over Key West to combat dengue. B.t.i. is an eco-friendly, non-toxic larvicide released from a helicopter, penetrating the foliage and targeting the mosquito larvae around homes. The micron-sized -larvicide droplets fall into gutters, cisterns, abandoned-swimming pools, wells, plant trivets, garbage cans, bromeliads, buckets and other problem areas. Since the start of 2011, The Florida Keys and Key West has not seen any new cases of dengue.


    With eight new FKMCD inspectors on the ground in Key West, the liquid-larviciding and community outreach campaign, 2011 looks promising. FKMCD and the Health Department continue to educate and encourage community involvement and turn knowledge into community action.

    ABCD Campaign – “Action to Break the Cycle of Dengue”

    April 15-17

    The Keys Action to Break the Cycle of Dengue project is kicking into high gear this month. During the weekend of April 15-17, Keys ABCD volunteers will post 10,000 door hangers on doorknobs across Key West. A big partner in this effort is Naval Air Station Key West, which sent a representative to collect 1,000 of the door hangers to post on base residences this week.

    During the weekend of April 29-May 1, volunteers will walk public properties and rights-of-way eliminating standing water and picking up trash.

    Besides Florida Keys Mosquito Control, NAS Key West, First State Bank, Naval Medical Clinic and the Monroe County government have enlisted volunteers.  In addition, Key West City Commissioner Clayton Lopez, who sponsored the city proclamation supporting the Keys ABCD Communitywide Clean-Up Weekend, is gathering his constituents to help with door hangers and clean-up.

    The ABCD Campaign is also working with the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority to put dengue prevention messaging in the next round of water bills and with Waste Management to post dengue prevention stickers on garbage cans and recycling bins across the city (draft sticker attached). Waste Management has also committed to including in their broadcast messaging calls for residents to haul large potential containers of water (old tires, toilets, birdbaths, etc.) to the curb for free pickup.

    In addition, Florida Keys Mosquito Control has developed three posters that are scheduled to post at a couple of bus stops in town

    First State Bank is about to post to its Web site a banner promoting the clean-up weekend and has committed to distributing dengue prevention information at its branches.

    If you have the time and interest, I’d like to speak to each of you about these efforts.

    The Monroe County Health Department and Florida Keys Mosquito Control are pleased to be working together in their efforts to break the cycle of dengue in Key West and protect public health

    Liquid Larviciding via the Helicopter in Key West

    Dec 10, 2010

    Despite Florida Keys Mosquito Control’s best efforts for 2010, Key West continued to see new cases of dengue, with 61 cases confirmed. Mosquito Control’s inspectors worked continuously throughout the year to eliminate any potential breeding sites for mosquitoes and educating as many residents as possible. Multiple rain events and warm temperatures allowed mosquitoes to hatch continuously this summer in the Keys, while the domestic inspectors attempted to visit every home at least once a month. Many visits to homes left Mosquito Control frustrated with the lack of response by residents to stop dengue transmission, especially in Key West.  Residents continued to let containers, flower pots, gutters, garbage cans, recycle bins, bromeliads, coolers and a number of other items collect water throughout the season, without dumping them.  Ae. aegypti populations remained at levels high enough to transmit the dengue illness and Mosquito Control continued to fight an uphill battle.

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    In an attempt to combat the lack of collective-community action and mosquitoes, Florida Keys Mosquito Control worked to come up with a new technique to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Manufacturers worked with FKMCD to come up with a new formulation of a larviciding product already used throughout the Keys called B.T.I.  B.T.I. is an eco-friendly, non-toxic larvicide used throughout the Florida Keys in low-lying areas and swamps to control the Salt Marsh Mosquito. It is an environmentally friendly bacteria infused in a corncob kernel that targets the mosquito larvae and stops them from reaching adulthood. It’s a very proactive way to control mosquitoes without releasing pesticides over environmentally sensitive lands. B.T.I. has shown to have no measurable effects on humans and animals, even when ingested. In fact, U.S. Fish and Wildlife permits this product on their offshore islands and the World Health Organization permits it for use in drinking water.

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    FKMCD planned to release this product over Key West with a helicopter but in a liquid, water-based form to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The liquid form of the already successful and reliable B.T.I. product would allow the product to penetrate the foliage canopy, reach those water-holding containers that were not being dumped and leave nothing but a benign dust in the form of a water-droplet as it dried. By eliminating the larvae in these water-holding containers, mosquito populations would decrease and so would transmission.

    FKMCD was able to purchase and install the required equipment needed to release the liquid-larvicide over the Old Town area of Key West. Several missions have been carried out and results have been very positive. Homeowners have asked questions about the helicopter, the mist and the residual product in the form of dried-water droplets. We assure residents of the product’s safety record and can give additional information when necessary.

    Controlling dengue is a collective effort among homeowners, Mosquito Control and the Monroe County Health Department. Our community must recognize that dengue will not go away on its own and FKMCD can never eliminate all the breeding sites for mosquitoes. Dengue is a man-made problem; mosquitoes that carry dengue, need our containers, without them Ae. aegypti populations would surely diminish.

    Be patient with your Mosquito Control inspector and their efforts to control mosquitoes around your neighborhood. Many of you may live in an area that requires more monitoring due to the number of dengue cases. You can help us by removing standing water on a weekly basis and after every rainfall and keeping FKMCD informed of problems. Please call Mosquito Control (292-7190) when mosquitoes become active as we rely on service requests, landing rate counts, traps and rain data to help guide our efforts.


    Florida Keys Mosquito Control’s

    Aerial-Liquid Larviciding Trials in Key West


    Manufacturers from Valent Biosciences Corporation have been working with Florida Keys Mosquito Control to try a new technique for controlling mosquitoes. For the passed two months, FKMCD has been using a water-based, aerial-liquid larvicide over Key West in an attempt to reach the water-holding containers that breed the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The larvicide, VectoBac WD, is an eco-friendly nonchemical form of controlling mosquito larvae in their aquatic environment. The World Health Organization has approved VectBac WDG for direct application to drinking water storage containers for control of dengue vectors and has been approved in the U.S. for use in organic farming.

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    In two trials FKMCD worked with Valent Biosciences and used their data and two trials were done independently by FKMCD. Each trial runs like an experiment in which data is collected and compared. Domestic inspectors whose areas were to be treated by air searched for any breeding containers holding larvae. Inspectors recorded the location of the container, container type and type of mosquito present. After each spray mission, inspector went back to their original larvae-holding containers and identified which containers had larval mortality. Florida Keys Mosquito Control is still analyzing the data

    How We Combat Mosquitoes


    Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance, they can also carry diseases such as malaria, West Nile Virus and our current concern, Dengue Fever. Florida Keys Mosquito Control has used a variety of tactics to combat mosquitoes safely in our sensitive environment. The most familiar method may be inspectors eliminating breeding sites and standing water where mosquitoes breed. Aerial spraying and fogging using pesticides in dilutions that are safe for animals and humans while fatal to mosquitoes is another familiar tactic. A more widely used method in the Keys has been larviciding, the dispersal into swamps, mangroves and other low-lying areas of corn kernels infused with an eco-friendly bacteria detrimental to mosquito larvae.

    As multiple rain events this year have led to increased mosquito numbers and the threat of Dengue, Mosquito Control inspectors have been working especially hard to remove standing water, spray around homes, educate residents on mosquito prevention and distribute a new product to combat mosquitoes. This summer, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District started setting 5,300 lethal ovitraps in Key West, in collaboration with the product company (Springstar), the Navy Entomology Center of Excellence, the Armed Forces Pest Management Board, and local Naval Air Station volunteers.


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    An ovitrap is a water-holding plastic cup with a very low-toxicity pesticide strip covered by a mesh screen. The trap is a simple but effective system used to reduce the mosquitoes that transmit Dengue, the Aedes aegypti. The female Aedes aegypti mosquito finds this ovitrap an attractive place to lay her eggs. When she lands on the pesticide strip, she and her larvae that develop will die. It is widely used in other countries and allows us to use less pesticide over time. Information is left with each home or business about the ovitraps, Dengue and ways to control mosquitoes around each individual property.

    The ovitraps were placed in July and will continue to be monitored for 3 months. Inspectors will visit the ovitraps to replace the pesticide strip every month for 3 months and identify eggs that were laid on the strip. The benefits of this project in the future could mean decreases in our Aedes aegpti population and the spread of Dengue and a reduction in pesticide use in areas where the traps are placed. A successful ovitrap study could lead to ovitraps being placed all over Key West on a more permanent basis and continually monitored.

    Mosquito Control is also monitoring the adult mosquito population with traps and tests for the presence of Dengue. Information gathered from these traps help guide spray missions, ground spraying and inspector sweeps of neighborhoods. Larval counts in swamps and other low-lying areas are being monitored on a regular basis by our field inspectors. Manufacturers are working with Florida Keys Mosquito Control to come up with new larviciding techniques that can penetrate the foliage canopy without leaving any residual pesticide for use over heavily populated areas like Key West. In 3 weeks, we will be starting aerial trials of a water-based larvicide to be used in Key West and possibly in the rest of the Florida Keys. Our hope is that the new product will be able to reach the water-holding containers that breed the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The liquid larvicide would be used in conjunction with many other techniques applied at Florida Keys Mosquito Control including the best mosquito method for dengue control, dumping water around your own homes.

    Sweeps of Key West


    26 cases of Dengue Virus/Fever have been confirmed as of August 12 of 2010 in Key West, in addition to the 27 confirmed in 2009. All 26 cases are thought to be locally acquired. Due to multiple rain events and an increase in mosquito numbers, Florida Keys Mosquito Control has been conducting several sweeps of Key West since the first case in the summer of 2009.

    Typically, during the summer months it could take an inspector more than a month and up to 6 weeks to return to a given property. Sweeps combine additional Mosquito Control inspectors from other areas around the Florida Keys to help the Key West inspectors remove all standing water and larvae around each and every home and business in Key West, during a one-week period. These sweeps work to attack the mosquito problem quickly and efficiently, when more manpower is needed in a given area.  During sweeps and on any given day, inspectors are dumping any items on properties that are holding water and spraying properties if adult mosquitoes are seen while inspections are done. Information is left with each home or business about dengue and ways to control it around each individual property.



    Please help mosquito control help you, by allowing access to your backyard. Leave your gates unlocked to allow inspectors to help rid your property of these disease-carrying mosquitoes. Individuals can take simple steps to stop the spread of this virus. After each rain event and at least twice a week, walk around your yard and tip over any water-holding containers and flush them with fresh water to remove any unseen mosquito eggs. Drill holes in garbage cans and recycle bins, screen all rainwater collections including rain barrels and drip buckets and flush your water-holding plants like bromeliads with fresh water once a week. Dengue only shows symptoms in about 70% of those people infected, which allows for more unknown transmission in our community. If you are showing symptoms of dengue, please see a physician and avoid being bit by mosquitoes.


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