FRIDAY, Sept. 23, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Aerial spraying of insecticides seems to be stopping the spread of the Zika virus in south Florida, health officials said Friday.
A combination of insecticides was needed to beat back the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health.
While ground spraying was ineffective, aerial spraying with the insecticides naled and Bti (bacillus Thuringensis) dramatically reduced the mosquito population and local transmission of Zika, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said during an afternoon media briefing.
“This really heralds in a new era of [mosquito] control,” Frieden said. “It appears that the aerial application of the one-two punch has the ability to rapidly interrupt transmission. It doesn’t mean that the area is immune from future spread, but the findings are quite striking,” he added.
These pesticides kill both the insect and its larvae, preventing the birth of new mosquitoes, Frieden said.
Aerial spraying is part of a comprehensive mosquito-control program that also includes encouraging people to get rid of standing water on their property and protect themselves against mosquito bites as well as using ground spraying in hard-to-reach areas, Frieden said.
This breed of mosquito has been particularly hard to control, Frieden said. And it’s impossible to know if spraying will work in the long run, he added. But after spraying, the mosquito population in the Miami area dropped significantly, as evidenced by the low numbers of insects found in mosquito traps, he said.
The initial Florida outbreak started in late June and ran through early August. In Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, 30 people were identified as having been infected with Zika virus through local mosquito-borne transmission. In Miami Beach, 44 confirmed cases have been reported so far, according to Dr. Celeste Philip, Florida’s surgeon general, who also spoke at the briefing.