The Phoenix Flyer

Malaria and dengue still spreading across Florida’s coastlines in 2023

By: - July 20, 2023 5:47 pm

Plane sprays insecticide on a field. Credit: Eric Brehm / Unsplash

While Southwest Florida’s Sarasota County has spent more than $80,000 spraying insecticide trying to control its malaria outbreak, another case of dengue fever appeared in Miami-Dade County.

Between July 9 and 15, the Florida Department of Health reported another malaria case acquired in Sarasota, bringing this year’s total number of cases that people contracted locally to seven. If one more person contracts the disease, the outbreak will be on par with the one in Palm Beach County 20 years ago.

Meanwhile, in South Florida, the department reported one locally acquired case of dengue between July 9 and 15. Three cases were reported also in Miami-Dade, in January, March and June, according to the report.

As to Sarasota, on the Gulf side of the peninsula, the first case appeared the week of May 21. Sarasota’s Mosquito Management Services has completed 17 spray missions using trucks and planes, wrote Sara Nealeigh, a media relations officer for Sarasota County Emergency Services, in an email to Florida Phoenix. Staff at Mosquito Management Services covered 600 road miles by truck and 36,231 acres by plane.

From May to mid-June, the Sarasota office in charge of coordinating the response completed 11 spray missions, the Phoenix previously reported. Despite the efforts, the malaria keeps spreading in the area.

Both malaria and dengue come from infected mosquitos, but parasites cause malaria while a virus causes dengue.

Using insect repellent when outdoors, wearing protective clothing and staying in air-conditioned or well-screened areas are key to preventing infection.

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Jackie Llanos
Jackie Llanos

Jackie is a recent graduate of the University of Richmond. She has interned at Nashville Public Radio, Virginia Public Media and Virginia Mercury.