RIO, Fla. (AP — When dengue fever appears in Florida, it’s usually in the densely populated Miami area. But a 2013 outbreak about 100 miles north of Miami caught two small communities by surprise.
The outbreak infected 28 people in Jensen Beach and Rio. The mosquitoes that spread dengue also carry Zika. The successful fight against dengue in these Florida suburbs may forecast what other U.S. communities face as the summer mosquito season begins.
Among the lessons local officials learned: the importance of home inspections by mosquito control technicians, media campaigns to “drain and cover” standing water and changes residents made in their own yards.
Rio resident Rachael Heid says that since she caught dengue in 2013, her neighborhood reduces its mosquito population by emptying birdbaths and vigilantly flipping garbage can lids and other containers catching water.