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Treasure Coast Essay

Researching mosquitoes


Mosquito season is upon us.  No one is watching those pesky little critters more carefully than the scientists at the Florida Medical Entomological Laboratory along the Indian River Lagoon off Oslo Road about three miles south of Vero Beach.  The lab is part of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.  The property takes up 38 acres and is surrounded by 291 acres of wetlands, mangrove forests and scrubby pine woods –a good environment for learning about the natural world.  The scientists are on the lookout for mosquitoes carrying West Nile or St. Louis encephalitis viruses.  In most humans, these viruses can cause a mild fever and headache.  But sometimes, the symptoms are more severe -- slurred speech, blurred vision and muscle tremors.  Due to heavy rainfall this year, parts of the Treasure Coast are among the areas believed to be breeding grounds for mosquito-borne diseases.  To reduce the risk of mosquito bites, get rid of standing water, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks, stay indoors at dawn and dusk, and use repellents that contain DEET.  You don’t have to be an entomologist to know that.  For 88.9. FM, this is Paul Janensch.