Fighting mosquito bite during a crisis: capabilities of Florida mosquito control districts during the COVID-19 pandemic

Imelda K. Moise, Lola R. Ortiz-Whittingham, Vincent Omachonu, Marah Clark, Rui De Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The stay-at-home orders imposed in early April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in various states complicated mosquito control activities across the United States (US), and Florida was no exception. Mosquito control programs are the first line of defense against mosquito-borne pathogens. The purpose of this study was to examine the capabilities of Florida mosquito programs to implement key mosquito measures during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Methods: Using a self-administered online survey, we examined the capabilities of all Florida mosquito control programs (both state-approved mosquito districts, N = 63; and open programs, N = 27) at a time when the state of Florida was still under heightened awareness of, stay-at-home orders and planning a phase 1 reopening over the COVID-19 pandemic (June to July 2020). The final sample included mosquito control programs structured as the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) (n = 42), independent tax district (n = 16), municipal (n = 10), and health or emergency department (n = 5). We used descriptive statistics to summarize information about the characteristics of responding programs, their implemented mosquito control and surveillance activities. wWe used bivariate analysis to compare the characteristics of responding programs and the self-reported mosquito measures. Results: Of the recruited mosquito control programs, 73 completed the survey (81.1% response rate; 73/90). Of these, 57.5% (n = 42) were Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) mosquito control programs, 21.9% (n = 16) were independent tax district programs, 13.7% (n = 10) were municipal mosquito control programs, and only 6.8% (n = 5) were either health or emergency department mosquito control programs. Except for arbovirus surveillance, most programs either fully or partially performed larval (61.8%) and adult (78.9%) surveillance; most programs conducted species-specific control for Aedes aegypti (85.2%, n = 54), Aedes albopictus (87.3%, n = 55), Culex quinquefasciatus (92.1%, n = 58), and Culex nigripalpus (91.9%, n = 57). Conclusions: Findings underscore the importance of ongoing mosquito control activities, and suggest that Florida mosquito control programs are vigilant and have significant capability to handle potential mosquito-borne disease threats, but arbovirus surveillance systems (laboratory testing of mosquito pools and testing of human and nonhuman specimens for arboviruses) are needed during pandemics as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number687
JournalBMC public health
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Aedes
  • Arbovirus
  • Culex
  • Fight the bite
  • GIS
  • Staffing
  • Survey
  • United states
  • Zika

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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