Florida’s Mosquito Season: How to Protect yourself from Mosquito-Borne Viruses this Summer

The Florida rain and summer heat create an ideal environment for mosquitos which can lead to an increase in the spread of diseases transmitted by mosquito bites.The Asian tiger mosquito, an invasive, disease-carrying pest, may spread to new areas as a result of global warming. A study by Barry Alto, a doctoral student with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Steven Juliano, a professor at Illinois State University, shows the mosquito breeds faster in warmer temperatures. Native to East Asia, the mosquito is established in parts of North and South America, Europe and Africa. The findings are being published today, July 5, in the Journal of Medical Entomology. (AP photo by Jim Newman, University of Florida/IFAS)

“All sorts of viruses are being transmitted by mosquitoes, yet we don’t fully understand the rate of disease transmission,” said J. Glenn Morris, M.D., M.P.H., director of the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute.

Morris was the corresponding author on a report about the Keystone virus, which was recently identified in humans for the first time.

Keystone is part of a group of viruses that can cause a mild fever but in severe cases can lead to brain inflammation, known as encephalitis.

Another mosquito-borne disease that has recently spread to Florida is the Zika virus.

Zika, which was discovered in 1947 in Uganda, was considered to be a harmless virus causing only mild discomfort until a 2014 outbreak in Brazil lead to a rise in cases of microcephaly, or “small head,” in newborns.

When Zika arrived in Florida, swift action from the Department of Health and CDC helped to limit the transmission of the disease.

Here are Department of Health’s the top 3 recommendations for limiting the spread of mosquito-borne viruses:

    1. Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.
    2. Cover your skin with clothing and use mosquito repellent.
    3. Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out.

To learn more, watch this recorded livestream from the Our Community, Our Health national town hall on the Zika virus.