Palm Beach County Mosquito Control trapping mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus for further testing

Posted at 10:53 PM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 05:48:13-04

Mosquito traps are set throughout Palm Beach County to catch the specific mosquito that can carry the Zika virus. 

RELATED: More Zika coverage

Thirty-eight mosquitoes were caught overnight in a downtown Lake Worth trap. To the naked eye, they look like regular mosquitoes. Under a magnifying glass, the long-legged flying insects with white markings are Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which can carry the Zika virus. 

"With the introduction of imported Zika into the U.S. and its ties to birth defects, it’s become obvious that we really need to keep it, keep a handle on these mosquitoes and perform pretty serious surveillance," said Chris Reisinger, Environmentalist Analyst, Palm Beach County Mosquito Control Division.

All current 13 Zika cases in Palm Beach County have been travel related. The first non-travel related case was just announced in Miami this week.

The Health Department is investigating how the virus was transmitted. Reisinger admits there are concerns in South Florida that mosquitoes here could start spreading Zika.

"We've got about a dozen of these traps that really target the Aedes mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus," added Reisinger. 

The mosquitoes are lured in with dry ice which is frozen carbon-dioxide, the gas we exhale. Once trapped, the Aedes aegypti are identified and frozen. 

"Very frozen to keep the virus viable," added Reisinger. "We'll put  them in vials, label them, and ship them off to the lab."

If a mosquito tested is Zika positive, fumigating would begin where the infected Aedes aegypti was caught and would extend for several blocks. Reisinger says the Aedes egypti has a limited flying range of a couple hundred yards.  

"We’ve got a big integrative response between us,  the Health Department and the sheriff’s," said Reisinger. 

Every time there is a suspected or confirmed case of travel-related Zika in the county, mosquito control inspects the person's home and begins treatment. 

Palm Beach County Mosquito Control has continued it's normal aerial sprays at night for nuisance mosquitoes. Reisinger adds that the Aedes aegypti is active during the day. 

Martin County Mosquito Control just received traps from the state two weeks ago.

St. Lucie County currently has mosquito traps out and is sending Aedes mosquitoes to a state lab for further testing. Indian River County is not currently trapping mosquitoes.