Jason Parker

Aerial Spraying Against Zika on Miami Beach Starts, With Broward County Planning Flights Next Week

Amid controversy surrounding the type of chemicals chosen in the fight against Zika, officials from Miami-Dade County launched the first of four scheduled aerial sprayings of what is referred to as the Zika transmission zone on Miami Beach.

Planes began dropping the pesticide Naled on the area between 8th Street and 28th Street shortly before 5:30 a.m. Friday morning. Another round of spraying is scheduled for Sunday, weather permitting, with more reported rounds being scheduled for the following two Sundays.

"We did what they said, we turned off the A/C, we stayed indoors, shut all the windows," resident Kelly Corso said Friday.

Spraying was scheduled to start on Thursday, but was pushed back a day amid protests and questions about what was being used in the fight.

On Friday, some parents at South Point Elementary sent their kids to school donning medical masks. Some adults were spotted wearing them too.

"I don't know how safe or unsafe it is so I think that the best precaution at this point would be to put a mask on my child," parent Daniel Tam said. "My wife is very concerned about the spraying."

The decision to use the pesticide has been met with criticism from members of the Miami Beach community and even city council members. A heated meeting took place earlier this week, while protests have taken place from residents upset at the choice of pesticide and what they feel was a lack of notice regarding the aerial sprayings.

Broward County officials announced on Friday that they would begin spraying by air five cities starting Monday morning. It will be done by helicopter and workers will be dropping BTI, an organic product, on the cities of Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale Beach, Margate and Tamarac.

"It only targets the mosquito larvae. It does not kill bees, other insects or other critters that are swimming around," said Ash Ton, with Broward County Mosquito Control.

BTI spraying has previously taken place in several of those cities, as well as Davie, Coral Springs and Fort Lauderdale. Officials insist that the Naled product will not be used at all and say the steps are being done to keep the virus from spreading into their country, where no current local transmissions have taken place.

"We're working very hard to combat the Zika virus to ensure that there are no active transmissions," Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar said. "Recently, the Broward County Commission appropriated approximately an additional $300,000 to bring more aerial spraying so that we can kill larvae before they can hatch."

The mayors of Hollywood and Tamarac, who attended a press conference Friday to discuss the spraying, said they support the plan.

"When I first heard about spraying I was very concerned. What is the impact going to be on Hollywood residents and our neighboring cities?" Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober said. "But I think what's going on here is completely appropriate. People often times criticize government but I think this is exactly what the role of government is, to try to protect the public and be proactive."

The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported no new non-travel related cases of the Zika virus throughout the state, while three new travel related cases were confirmed in Miami-Dade County and one in Palm Beach County were part of the 12 cases reported statewide.

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