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Health officials urge vigilance against mosquito and tick bites

Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County advises residents to drain standing water and cover up to minimize exposure to mosquitoes and ticks in aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Standing water can be a haven for mosquitos. (Photo by Eric Garwood)
Standing water can be a haven for mosquitos. (Photo by Eric Garwood)
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In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County is reminding residents of one more thing to worry about — the danger of mosquito and tick bites. Standing water left behind in even unexpected areas can create a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and those working to clear vegetative debris face greater exposure to ticks.

More than an annoyance, mosquito and tick bites can cause serious diseases. To help prevent that, the agency is urging residents to “drain and cover” in the coming days and weeks.

“With all the rain and flooding associated with Hurricane Ian it’s important for residents and visitors to take the appropriate precautions to protect themselves from being bitten by a mosquito in the first place,” said DOH-Sarasota Director Chuck Henry. “Residents are encouraged to drain containers with standing water around their homes, and everyone is encouraged to cover up and use a mosquito repellent when mosquitoes are present.”

In advance of the hurricane, aerial spraying aircraft were required to relocate. The planes have now returned and are preparing to resume mosquito control missions.  Inspections of chemical storage areas and equipment have been completed and Sarasota County Mosquito Management has resumed mosquito surveillance operations and arial and truck spraying missions began on Oct. 4.

“Crews are surveying and treating where they can,” said Sarasota County Mosquito Management Services Manager Wade Brennan. “We expect to see large numbers of mosquitos in our flooded areas, especially those with standing water for more than seven days.”

 Meanwhile, the public is being urged to remain diligent in standing water prevention measures including:

  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers or any other containers where sprinkler or rainwater has collected.
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans or other items that aren't being used.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pets’ water bowls frequently.
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
  • Maintain swimming pools in good condition and keep them appropriately chlorinated.
  • Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

Cover-up measures include:

  • Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves, especially those who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing
  • Use mosquito netting rather than repellents to protect children younger than 2 months old.
  • Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios.



Andrew Warfield

Andrew Warfield is the Sarasota Observer city reporter. He is a four-decade veteran of print media. A Florida native, he has spent most of his career in the Carolinas as a writer and editor, nearly a decade as co-founder and editor of a community newspaper in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

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