Risk of mosquito-borne illness on the rise for Floridians in 2024

Close-up of a mosquito sucking blood
'I rest easy, and Floridians can too, knowing our state has the nation’s best mosquito-control teams working to protect our health and our economy.'

Early forecasts warn of a rainy, wet year ahead, providing an ideal environment for mosquitoes to grow and thrive and creating increased risk for humans of contracting a mosquito-borne illness.

This warning, shared at a press conference, comes after historic mosquito-borne illnesses last year, including the largest dengue fever outbreak in more than 75 years and the first locally transmitted case of malaria in Florida in more than 20 years.

Sen. Jim Boyd, a Republican who represents the Brandon area, was on hand with members of the Florida Mosquito Control Association (FMCA) at the press conference at the State Capitol.

“These public servants are unsung heroes,” Boyd said, referring to mosquito control workers. “The potential health threat to tens of millions of Floridians and visitors is dramatically reduced by mosquito control professionals who deploy high-tech tools, scientific research and 24/7 work in the air and on the ground.”

He reiterated warnings of increased mosquito activity and associated health risks.

“But I rest easy, and Floridians can too, knowing our state has the nation’s best mosquito-control teams working to protect our health and our economy,” Boyd added during the Tuesday remarks.

The FMCA includes 15 independent mosquito control districts throughout the state, with elected boards that work with Florida’s 42 county and municipal mosquito control programs. Each year, representatives from the group travel to Tallahassee during Legislative Session to advocate for their work, and for resources needed to complete it.

“We are proud to work with so many partners including local health departments and local officials,” said FMCA Board Member Phil Goodman, Chairman of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.

“But one of the biggest reasons for our success in controlling mosquitoes is the constant collaboration between mosquito control programs and districts. Whether it’s Pensacola or Miami or anywhere in between, we work as one statewide unit when it comes to ensuring we are all doing our best work to keep our state healthy and our economy booming.”

Mosquito-borne illness is nothing new in Florida — scientists have been educating the public about risks for more than a century — but the risks remain, including from Zika, West Nile Virus, Chikungunya and dengue fever.

“As a practicing physician in the Florida Keys I have seen firsthand the detrimental effects of what a simple mosquito bite can do to the human body,” said Stan Zuba, a pediatrician and Florida Keys Mosquito Control District board member.

“Due to Florida’s tropical and subtropical climates, we have to remain vigilant all year round — using appropriate protections and repellants while outdoors, especially during the dawn and dusk hours when mosquitoes are most active.”

Also present at the press conference were members of the Legislature and Bob Lotane, a Tallahassee resident who in 2014 contracted West Nile Virus after being bitten by a mosquito. He cautioned Floridians to remain vigilant, retelling his experience with the illness and urging others to protect themselves and their loved ones.

The entire press conference can be viewed here.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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