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Authorities in the state are using drastic measures to stop the spread of the parasitic New World screwworm in the Florida Keys. Quarantine and sterilized males are being used to stop the first outbreak in over 30 years.

USDA and state officials use radiation to sterilize male screwworms, which are actually a species of fly. The male flies are then released to mate with the females. Any eggs that are laid won’t hatch thus killing the population.

The Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, declared a state of emergency after confirming an infestation in Key deer on Sept. 30. That particular subspecies of white-tailed deer is an endangered species making the containment of this issue all the more important.

"While it sounds like a Halloween joke, it poses a grave threat to the last population of the subspecies of Key Deer," Putnam told CNN. "And if it gets beyond the Keys, it represents an enormous threat to the US livestock industry, because of potential quarantines and trade barriers that could occur if it gets into the livestock population."

The screwworm can grow as large as common houseflies only with orange eyes. They lay eggs in open wounds in mammals and the hatched larvae feed on living flesh.

Infestations are easy to detect in humans and pets according to reports. An animal health checkpoint has been set up by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for residents and visitors.



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b2ap3_thumbnail_Bed-Bug-3.jpgDuval County Public Schools in conjunction with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are trying to prevent the spread of bed bugs in Jacksonville.

“Bed Bugs and Book Bags” is an initiative that teaches students how to identify the parasitic bugs and how to deal with them.  It’s an actual curriculum where teachers in the public schools devote class time to educating their students about the bugs.

The program, which started in 2012, has been a smashing success leading to its duplication across the country, in Canada and in some Middle Eastern countries.

It’s a part of a larger effort in Duval County called the Jacksonville Bed Bug Task Force. The task force was instrumental in helping Trinity Rescue Mission in Jacksonville almost completely eradicate its bed bug population. It’s also been tasked with providing information at health fairs and community events.

“Bed Bugs and Book Bags” is currently available to third through fifth grade students with students gradually learning more as they progress in age. The plan is to expand it to sixth through eighth graders in the near future.

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Two Japanese car makers have made the wrong kind of headlines after attempting to go green. Honda and Toyota’s new soy-based coating on wires have some drivers taking them to court.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Rat-a-tat-tat.jpgBoth car companies are being sued in separate class action lawsuits as drivers have said the new material attracts rodents. The rodents are chewing through the coating as they think it’s food.

Some customers have had less than 20,000 miles on their vehicles when they started exhibiting problems while repairs have cost some over $2,000 according to reports.  

While rodents have always been known to chew on wires and nest in cars, mechanics are joining with consumers in saying that soy now is the issue. Both companies deny that claim.

Anyone who believes they’ve been victim to this can file a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_lovebug.jpgFlorida residents should have a very close relationship with car washes this month as we’re smack in the middle of the second lovebug swarming season.

The small flies’ acidic bodies can wreak havoc on auto paint. Leaving their splattered bodies on cars for several days only strengthens the acidity.  According to the University of Florida’s entomology department, if enough get under your hood they can even clog your radiator.

The bugs are a huge issue in the Gulf states and Central America. According to WDAM-7 TV in Mississippi, Rainforest car wash in Hattiesburg has set up a lovebug station so customers can make sure the bugs are removed.

“Customers have the option to pull over to the side before they wash their car and take as much time as they need to scrub the bugs off the front of their vehicles,” Rainforest operations manager Barry Broome told the station.

The good news is that the bugs only swarm for about four weeks. The bad news is that, like most other flying insects, there is little pest management that can be done to control these nuisances.

Just be prepared to load up on car wash products next spring when they return.

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The increasing numbers of Zika cases in the United States has led the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to activate rapid response teams to deal with outbreaks and deaths.

b2ap3_thumbnail_mosquitoSucking.pngAccording to reports, these CDC Emergency Response Teams (CERT) assist local authorities with investigating cases of highly communicable diseases. One such case is in Utah and that case has officials in that state and CDC officials baffled.

A man seems to have contracted the virus from his now deceased father, but the CDC still doesn’t know how. The Associated Press reports that the man told authorities that he kissed and hugged his dying father. Those actions hadn’t previously been associated with transmission of the disease. Dr. Angela Dunn with the Utah Department of Health told the AP the case may lead to more research into whether the disease can be transmitted through tears or bowel movements.

Closer to home here in Florida, there have been 823 confirmed cases according the state’s department of health. The department has 20 ongoing investigations - 16 Miami-Dade County, three in Palm Beach County and one in Pinellas County.

If anyone believes they’ve been exposed to the virus, all Florida county departments of health offer free Zika risk assessment and testing for pregnant women.

To guard against Zika citizens should remove all standing water on their property, keep their air conditioning on, keep arms and legs covered, and use mosquito repellant.

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