New mosquito trap aids in fight against Zika

Anastasia Mosquito District use traps to monitor Zika-carrying mosquitoes

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The Anastasia Mosquito District has placed new mosquito traps in residential parts of downtown St. Augustine, where the type of mosquito most likely to carry the Zika virus has been found.

Florida health officials said Friday that there is a "high likelihood" that four cases of the Zika virus in Miami-Dade and Broward counties were caught locally.

The Florida Department of Health said it believes the cases were likely transmitted through infected mosquitoes in a small area in Miami-Dade County.

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Florida has seen a steady increase in Zika diagnoses in recent months, with the total number of cases nearing 400, including three confirmed cases in St. Johns County.

"When it strikes their neighborhood, they are very shocked. But I think everyone needs to be concerned about," St. Augustine resident Toni Palmer said. "My future daughter-in-law is expecting in late November. And with the Zika virus and especially now that there have been infants that have been affected by the disease, I just want to make sure that she is taking the necessary precautions."

Health officials in St. Johns County said they are prepared to fight what comes their way.

The county received 11 traps from the state, which cost a couple hundred dollars each. Education specialist Christopher Bibbs said the traps are a huge upgrade from the old traps, which made it difficult to catch and test efficiently.

WATCH: Demo of mosquito trap in St. Johns County

"This is something that the state is doing to support all the districts so, at least, all the districts have a couple of these rolling around. And It makes it so we can do something about the impending Zika issues," Bibbs said. 

The new trap has features that help attract mosquitoes at a high rate, including mosquito food to attract them and a fan, which helps keep the insects inside once they have been trapped.

Specialists said the material that the trap is made of can also withstand rain and other conditions, allowing them to better monitor mosquitoes. 

"The reason these traps are so special is because our standard traps are a light-based trap. Now they use fans, but they don't work quite the same. These mosquitoes that are associated with Zika or other contained breeding mosquitoes literally ignore our other other traps. If it weren't for this, we would not be able to catch them," Bibb said.

Bibb said his department, along with 30 others in the county, will work together and even had a meeting earlier this month about Zika.

"We were all there in the same room, so we could discuss what is our action plan? How do we do this? And when we hit certain hangups, we present different scenarios of what if this, what if that, if we encounter this, help us with that," Bibb said. 

The district will be checking the 10 traps set up around town every 24-48 hours and testing the mosquitoes found inside on a daily basis.