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Collier Mosquito Control District vigilantly testing for Dengue virus

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:

Collier County constantly tests mosquitoes for the dangerous diseases the creatures can spread. Just two hours east, there have been three cases of dengue fever in the Miami area and the county tests mosquitoes, so it does not spread.

Elliot Barton and Stella play at the dog park usually two or three times a week. However, as we soak in Southwest Florida from relentless rain, our smaller and sometimes peskier counterparts do, too.

“Yeah sometimes,” Barton said. “Usually after a good rain when it’s humid out.”

Just like dogs and humans are inseparable, mosquitoes like aedes aegypti love to live near humans. Dr. Keira Lucas, director of research at Collier Mosquito Control District, said they are breeding in containers around your home.

At Collier Mosquito Control District, the science team keeps tabs on mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.

“We want to be proactive,” Dr. Lucas said, “in the event that there ever was an outbreak in any of those diseases.”

In the lab, they test mosquitoes for various viruses that could get passed on to you if you were to be bitten. The scientists grind the bugs up, then extract their DNA to analyze it for viruses.

That step is vital since three people recently tested positive for Dengue in Miami-Dade County.

Each year, up to 400 million people get infected with dengue, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Around 100 million people get sick from an infection while 22,000 die from severe dengue. Most symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, rash aches or pains.

However, Dr. Lucas said mosquito-borne diseases are not too common in Southwest Florida. “We do get several imported cases of Zika virus,” Dr. Lucas said, “but we do have the potential to have any of those viruses.”

With the possibility means we can not let our guard down. Dr. Lucas advises dumping standing water as it can take five to seven days to get adult mosquitoes. These are the ones that bite you. As we protect ourselves, researchers will continue to learn about the buzz behind it.