Zika Virus In Florida: Miami Beach Completes Insecticide Spraying Against Mosquitoes After Public Protests

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald September 10, 05:42 am

Aerial insecticide spraying against mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus has pushed through in Miami Beach, Florida despite protests from the public. Worried and angry residents believe that the spraying is bad for people's health and the environment.

The predawn spraying of insecticide against Zika-carrying Aedes mosquitoes was carried out on Friday morning by small planes, NBC News reported. The spraying, which involved the pesticide Naled, was supposed to take place a day earlier but was interrupted by protesters, who gathered outside City Hall and aired their complaints to city officials.

The spraying of insecticide must occur during predawn and at sunset because Aedes mosquitoes are most active during those times, according to CNN. Aside from aerial spraying, officials are also spraying pesticide and larvicide on the ground in areas where mosquito populations flock.

Naled is an insecticide that has been registered for use in the United States since 1959, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote. Naled's health risks are usually minimal because of the tiny amount (two tablespoons) of active ingredient released per acre of ground. The insecticide kills mosquitoes on contact and intercepts the pests in flight.

In the past, Naled has successfully killed mosquitoes that carry Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses in the mainland U.S. and in Puerto Rico. The European Union, however, is less tolerant of Naled. The organization described the insecticide as "a potential and unacceptable risk" to people's health and the environment.

Miami-Dade County Carlos A. Giménez announced that a new cluster of mosquitoes tested positive for the Zika virus hours after the aerial spraying was completed. Insecticide spraying will commence again this coming Sunday and in the next two weekends.

Zika is most harmful to infected women's unborn babies. Studies and physical evidence show that infants infected with the virus often exhibit eye damages, hearing loss, impaired growth, and microcephaly. These proofs, however, aren't enough for some people in Florida.

An online petition titled "Floridians AGAINST spraying of Naled" raised the "mounting evidence disproving a direct link between Zika and microcephaly," arguing that this should stop the aerial spraying of Naled immediately. As of this writing, the petition has gained 8,470 supporters.

There are currently 56 local transmissions of the Zika virus in Florida. The state, which has a 20.6 million population, has 596 travel-related Zika cases, CNN reported from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 84 pregnant women in Florida have tested positive for Zika, NBC noted.

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