Posted on Sun, May. 08, 2005

Alvarez focused on health concern

I would like to thank Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and his staff. For the past 18 months I have tried to persuade the county that its policy of installing storm drains with catch basins that hold standing water longer than three days is dangerous. Standing water breeds mosquitoes, which spread diseases such as West Nile Virus and other strains of encephalitis.

In February I met with Millie Garcia-Navarro of the mayor's office, after which she and the mayor's staff orchestrated and hosted a multidepartment, multiagency meeting on April 22 to address my concerns.

Deputy County Manager Pete Hernandez led the meeting, which had about 20 participants, including representatives from the mayor's office, DERM, public works, mosquito control and the county health department. I had the chance to present my concerns in an open forum.

We learned that Miami-Dade has been more concerned with flood prevention than mosquito control, with the unintended and unfortunate corollary of being more concerned about preventing property damage than protecting lives.

DERM agreed to try to find a better maintenance method to minimize standing water and to consider mosquito-free storm-drain designs. The health department agreed to offer its expertise in vector-borne diseases. Mosquito control acknowledged that with additional funding, the problem could be greatly reduced with recurring larvicide treatments in catch basins.

Mosquitoes are more than annoying, they are dangerous. The Mosquito Control Division encourages residents to report mosquito problems, including larvae in standing water, by calling 305 592-1186. Again, I thank the mayor and his staff for working to help protect our health.


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