Monitoring and Control for Invasive Mosquito species in Florida
Invasive mosquito species have become a significant problem in the State of Florida. For a long time, Florida has been a state which depends heavily upon tourism because of its mild climate and pleasant beaches, and like Hawaii, the state has also become a melting pot of world travel and a major focal point of concern for invasive mosquito species management. Because of Florida's warm climate and diverse population the history of mosquito-borne disease epidemiology is an intriguing one. The state has withstood various onslaught of mosquito-borne disease attacks throughout its history (Yellow fever, Dengue, St Louis encephalitis, Eastern Equine encephalitis, Malaria, etc.) on humans. In fact, life was so difficult in this state during the 1820's that Virginia congressman John Randolph of Roanoke did not want Florida to become a state because he considered it uninhabitable. Moreover, its population had been greatly restricted because of its inaccessibility and mosquito-borne disease potential, that at first it was doubtful that Florida would ever realize its destiny.
History and the dawn of Ant-Mosquito Legislation in Florida
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With the advent of air-conditioning and finally, organized mosquito control districts (now in about 61 of 67 counties), Florida would realize its true calling: it would become a major world travel destination, particularly for tourism and outdoor activities. Today, with an economy of approximately 500 billion dollars per year, and a population of 18 million, interstate and global trade to this State has reached an important apex; therefore the 27th state has formulated laws which protect its valuable commodities (especially tourism). Thus, it is to this end that Florida has taken a proactive legislative approach in dealing mosquito problems. For example, Florida Public Health Code regulation (Chapter 388.01.01) states that:
“It is declared to be the public policy of this state to achieve and maintain such levels of arthropod control as will protect human health and safety and foster the quality of life of the people, promote the economic development of the state (emphasis mine), and facilitate the enjoyment of its natural attractions by reducing the number of pestiferous and disease-carrying arthropods. It is further declared to be the policy of the state to conduct arthropod control in a manner consistent with protection of the environmental and ecological integrity of all lands and waters throughout the state.”
Thus, public health mosquito control has been written into the very halls of government, beginning with State involvement in 1889, through the creation of the Florida Board of Health in large part because of the many deaths from yellow fever and malaria (though it was not fully known that mosquitoes were the cause until after 1889), and through the formation of the first mosquito control district in 1922.
The Role of Mosquito Control Districts in Invasive Mosquito Management
The problem in Florida, as with many other States is that there is no adequate, organized network for detection, and eradication; nor are there adequate public educational programs.
The defined role for mosquito control districts, respecting the determent of the importation of invasive mosquitoes, as proposed, is multifaceted and should include the following elements:
- Mosquito surveillance at, or around all significant airports, seaports/ports of entry, tire sites.
- These areas will be referred to as “Control Priority Areas.”
- Programs would utilize standard CDC traps for adult mosquito collections, unless contraindicated by species preference.
- Larval mosquito inspections would be conducted within a perimeter of 5 miles, inside of Control Priority Areas.
- Standard equipment for this includes a larval dipper, water aspirator (a turkey baster will also work), and larval traps for night collections.
- Adulticiding inspections, including landing counts on human skin.
- Tolerance would be zero for pre-established species threats (the numbers should be standardized by agencies).
- Tolerance would be 5 per minute on human skin if species are established, but less if mosquito pool testing results and ovary age grading show there is a reasonable possibility of disease transmission, or if susceptible genetic strains are discovered.
- Developing definitive and standard backgrounds needed for control measures to take place.
- Includes priority tiers, based upon the potential for successful establishment. This should be coordinated and standardized with local State and Federal Standards.
- Mosquito taxonomy
- Mosquito control agencies are uniquely qualified to perform this function.
- Developing methods of control for applicable situations or scenarios
- Also based upon species establishment potential and their vector competencies.
- Collecting potential vector species into pools of 25 in number.
- Pools would be sent to Tampa Virology Laboratory.
- Susceptible genotypes should be identified at the TVL.
- When positive or susceptible individuals are found, test results would be communicated by TVL, to mosquito control districts.
- Locating and inspecting waste tire sites, invasive plants, and other breeding areas, including ecological niches in an around Control Priority Areas, which are known to be breeding sources.
- Executing the multiagency control plan.
- Includes source reduction.
- Tire removal.
- Ultra Low Volume Mosquito Control pesticide applications.
- Communicating scientific data and practical information to network participants.
- Referring jurisdictional and recommended actions outside the scope of districts to:
- The Centers for Disease Control.
- Notifies the public of mosquito-borne illness risks.
- Presently does no mosquito control.
- The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
- FDACS would report potential invasive mosquito data to the Centers for Disease Control, if mosquito-borne diseases are involved; but if not, they would provide mosquito/host plant data to the US Department of Agriculture.
- FDACS would provide State monies for waste tire disposal for solid waste programs and mosquito control districts.
- Division of Animal Industry (under FDACS).
- FDACS would be notified if animal diseases are involved.
- DAI is presently is not involved in mosquito control.
- Agency's proposed role would be report to FDACS.
- Division of Plant Industry (under FDACS).
- Presently deals with exotic plants and associated pests.
- Presently does not regulate and is not involved with invasive mosquito species associated with plants.
- Agency's future role could be to report invasive mosquito species of plants (those which contain water, such as bamboo, elephant ears, bromeliads etc.) to FDACS.
- Bureau of Entomology (under FDACS).
- Regulates mosquito control in Florida.
- The US Department of Agriculture (Would receive invasive mosquito data from FDACS, through the Bureau of Entomology).
- Would have the power to inspect and regulate the entrance of invasive mosquito species at interstate seaports and shipyards.
- Various Regulatory organizations under USDA.
- Would inspect and regulate invasive species if detected.
- Data communication with local mosquito control districts would provide them with information and make detection easier.
Mosquito Control Funding for a Multiagency Approach
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Any approach involving this type of an integrated approach requires funding. For example, legal contracts are needed to recover costs associated with government owned properties, such as International airports, regional airports and sea ports. Disposing tires from waste tire sites involve removal fees and costs, court actions, equipment purchases and maintenance. State funded monies from FDACS. Private bids should be made by Federal and State agencies if mosquito control district contracts are not feasible or permissible. However, data produced by private mosquito control organizations must be communicated expeditiously to each local mosquito control district, so that surveillance and control measures may be conducted in an integrated, wide-area management plan within each county at large, otherwise the spread of invasive mosquito species may take place and become impossible, or more difficult. The proposed mosquito plan should be implemented at all Control Priority Areas where invasive mosquito introductions are likely, otherwise controlling the spread of invasive species will neither be effective nor possible. The role of local mosquito control districts in this process would be to help to disseminate information critical to intrastate and State control evolutions. The primary means of control would be provided by mosquito control districts operating under contract or within the district boundaries of each county within the State. Those counties which do not have a mosquito control would be exempt from invasive mosquito management.
The Big Sticking Point: Money
While a multi-tiered, multiagency approach helps organizations to cross jurisdictional and financial boundaries, but the big problem is getting the money to do it. This has been the root of the issue with less developed countries in meeting the standards of world trade organizations (that is, the ability to meet or exceed standards because of the lack of funds, stability or expertise). With a multi-agency approach to interstate invasive mosquito management, costs can be shared and individual expenses reduced. Thus, the whole network is enabled by shared responsibility, costs and know-how. The system, however will not work if adequate funding is not legislated or provided to the key players. Currently, there exist no system in which this proposed mosquito-net that will accomplish the systematic goal of controlling invasive mosquitoes throughout the Florida, and the United States. The net simply has too many holes in it to be effective, and because of this, mosquitoes, such as Ochlerotatus japonicus (a potential West Nile vector) is spreading in the southeastern United States. The bottom line is that there are simply no agencies that can take the ball, once it is dropped at state borders (in this case, Florida). Therefore, even if districts, like those in Florida could effectively control invasive mosquito species, neighboring States may not, and therein is the present problem.
The Threat of Emerging Diseases and Why We Should Control Invasive Mosquito Species
According to one researcher, invasive mosquitoes enter with the help of man:
“From the fifteenth century to the present, successive waves of invasion of the vector mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, the Culex pipiens Complex, and, most recently, Aedes albopictus have been facilitated by worldwide ship transport (emphasis mine). Aircraft have been comparatively unimportant for the transport of mosquito invaders. Mosquito species that occupy transportable container habitats (emphasis mine), such as water-holding automobile tires, have been especially successful as recent invaders” (Lounibos, 2002, page 233).
The problem of invasive mosquitoes is not so much that they may be brought in by winds or storms, but by all that we know, most invasive species are brought in by man, and in the preceding example, by ships and tires. Invasive species should be prevented from entering into newer domains, because they are a threat to the public health. The Dengue fever mosquito Aedes albopictus was brought into the United States in imported tires. Yet another researcher unwittingly highlights the point concerning human container association: “Among 31 mosquito species found breeding in cemeteries from 16 countries, the invasive Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus were the most frequent ones” (Vezzani, 2007, page 299). Aedes aegypti was also introduced into the United States, but through the slave trade, aboard ships from Africa. These mosquitoes continue their human associations, in that they reproduce in manmade containers, such as vases at grave yards in many countries of the world, including the United States. Open vases, which cannot hold water, can be used in place of standard flower vases in these areas, as well as artificial flowers. Thus, not only do we have associations with invasive mosquitoes that were brought in by man, but we continue to maintain them by giving them man-made places to harbor in, so that they can continue to exist where we inadvertently have put them. There are reasons for concern: both Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti are extremely competent vectors of Dengue fever, which has recently reappeared in south Florida, where at least 20 home grown cases were uncovered in the Florida Keys between August and November, after an absence of 40 years. The once common scourge of tens of thousands of Floridians may be back again. This underscores the need for proper mosquito control and interagency cooperation. It seems that Aedes albopictus never seems to get tired of traveling the world in tires:
“The invasive mosquito Aedes (Stegomyia) albopictus (Skuse) (Diptera:
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Culicidae) was detected for the first time in Spain, in Sant Cugat del Valle` s, a city in the north-east of the country (41_280 N, 2_40 E, altitude 120 m), during August 2004. A male and one larva were collected in the backyard of a house and in a tree hole, respectively. Dense populations of adults and larvae were found in subsequent surveys, confirming the establishment of the species in the area. This is the first report of the establishment of this species in the Iberian Peninsula” (Aranda et. al., page 150).
According to the Journal of Medical Entomology, one researcher has given the invasive species, Aedes albopictus a high vector competency for the potential to transmit West Nile Virus to humans as a bridge vector (bird to human): “…they would be potential bridge vectors between the avian-Culex cycle and mammalian hosts”,(Turell et. al., page 57). Standard vector competency levels could be used in risk assessments in order to prioritize multilateral organizational options in order reduce susceptible populations and disease risks. Mosquito sampling pools could be sent to Tampa Virology Laboratory in Tampa Florida in order to assess special control needs depending on the potential for disease risk within a genetic mosquito population. Susceptible and efficient vectors should be genetically identified in order to reduce risk to humans if financially feasible. This information should be communicated to the state and local Departments of Health, and to the Centers of Disease Control.
Ultimately, new invasive vector mosquitoes should be prevented from further range expansion by plugging in multi-agency tiers to help bear the costs of preventing local and State establishment, thereby warding off the progression ofa species into other states or countries.
To reduce the threat of emerging diseases, vector mosquitoes must be effectively trapped. A standard trap called a CDC (Centers for Disease Control) trap is commonly used:
“The CDC light trap (model 512; John W. Hock Company; Gainesville, FL) used a 6 V DC motor and a CM-47 lamp (0.52 candlepower of incandescent light) and was set 152 cm (5 ft) above ground.CDC light trap is compact, lightweight, and portable and enables mosquito surveillance in locations lacking main line electricity” (Hoel, et. al., Page 48).
The reason for the prevention of invasive alien mosquito species introductions can be summed in this way: “The majority of (Aedes albopictus) introductions are apparently due to transportation of dormant eggs in tires. Among public health authorities in the newly infested countries and those threatened with the introduction, there has been much concern that Ae. albopictus would lead to serious outbreaks of arboviral diseases…”, (emphasis mine); (Gratz, page 215). The bottom line: Invasive species introductions are generally a bad thing, especially when they vector diseases, and they should be prevented, whenever possible.
Summary and Conclusion
The introduction of harmful mosquito species throughout Florida's history, which in early times contributed to the delayed Statehood status of this former US Territory, brought about harmful diseases, and continues to do so, to this day. Therefore, so that we do not, through the continuation of our folly continue to allow invasive mosquitoes to be introduced and established in Florida and beyond, we must enjoin support for an effective, multiagency cooperation in the prevention of the ongoing public health threat caused by The Mosquito.
Aranda, C., R. Eritja, and D. Roiz. 2006. First record and establishment of Aedes albopictus in Spain. Med. Vet. Entomol. 30:150–152.
Gratz, N. G. 2004. Critical review of the vector status of Aedes albopictus. Med. Vet. Entomol. 18: 215–227.
Hoel, D.F., Kline, D.L., Allan, S.A. 2009. Evaluation of six mosquito traps for collection of Aedes albopictus and associated mosquito species in a suburban setting in North Central Florida. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. 25(1): 47-57.
Lounibos, L.P. (2002). Invasion by insect vectors of human disease. Annual Review of Entomology 47: 233-266.
Turell, M.J., D.J. Dohm, M.R. Sardelis, M.L. O'Guinn, T.J. Andreadis, and J.A. Blow. 2005. An update on the potential of North American mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) to transmit West Nile virus. J. Med. Entomol. 42(1): 57-62.
Vezzani, D. 2007. Review: artificial container-breeding mosquitoes and cemeteries: a perfect match. Trop. Med. Int. Health 12: 299–313.