Zika in Florida: Aerial Spraying Starts in Miami Beach

The aerial spraying was protested this week.

September 9, 2016, 1:00 PM

— -- Aerial spraying of insecticide has started in Miami Beach one day after demonstrators took to the streets to protest the chemical being used.

The spraying began today at 5 a.m. in an effort to reduce the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Three of these insects tested positive for the Zika virus last weekend and officials are trying to curb an outbreak of local Zika in the Miami area that has left 56 infected.

At least 604 people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus in Florida, with the vast majority being exposed while in other countries. Of those diagnosed, 84 were pregnant women, according to health officials.

Miami Beach officials are using Naled, an insecticide approved for use by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Naled is from a class of insecticide called organophosphates, registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to kill insects, including mosquitoes.

The chemical interferes with the nervous system of insects, which kills them. When used in aerial spraying, a licensed professional must handle the chemical.

The insecticide was used in the first outbreak zone in the Miami area, the Wynwood neighborhood, but initially health officials said they didn't anticipate spraying in Miami Beach due to the high-rise towers. However, the continuation of the outbreak and the discovery of three mosquitoes with the Zika virus led health officials to decide to start spraying after all.

The next schedule spray date is on Sept. 11.

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