August 29, 2016
Collier tourism: Keep calm and carry mosquito repellent
By JoNell Modys, Special to Coastal Life
The Zika virus has been in the headlines a lot since locally transmitted cases were discovered in two small neighborhoods in Miami and Miami Beach at the beginning of the month.
State and local officials are very focused on doing everything possible to prevent any widespread outbreaks.
Late August and September are the slowest months for tourism in Southwest Florida, but regardless of Zika concerns, visitors are still coming and enjoying a late-summer fling at our beaches, attractions, resorts and hotels.
For both residents and visitors, here’s a quick look at the situation in the Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades region.
Collier County Mosquito Control has been actively trapping and testing Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (the ones that carry the Zika virus) since February 2016, and has found no evidence of infected mosquitoes. There are currently six travel-related cases of Zika in Collier County, meaning those people acquired the infection while traveling out of the area.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito feeds on humans and breeds in natural and artificial water-holding containers like tree holes, bromeliads, used tires, plastic containers, clogged gutters, toys, tools, wheelbarrows, and birdbaths commonly found around where people live and work.
The Zika-carrying mosquito only flies about 150 yards from where it was hatched in its lifespan, which lasts a few weeks. Mosquitoes from the areas affected on Florida’s east coast are not going to fly over here.
Ironically, one of the places where you’re not likely to find the Aedes aegypti is in the Everglades regions of eastern Collier County. Since there isn’t enough of a human population in wilderness areas to sustain them, you’re more likely to find the Zika-carrying type of mosquito in urban areas. The black salt marsh mosquito found in our wilderness areas are annoying, but they do not transmit Zika.
What you can do
The best thing we all can do is check around our yards and places of business daily to get rid of standing water. Even a thimbleful is enough for a mosquito to lay her eggs.
Use mosquito repellent, preferably one with DEET. Keep screens, windows and doors closed to keep mosquitoes from following you inside. This goes for hotel guests as well as anyone at home.
Check the Zika Virus Information link at paradisecoast.com for updates about Zika in the region, as well as links to lots more information from the Florida Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Naples Botanical Garden welcomes guests and their dogs each day from 8 a.m-3 p.m. through Aug. 31. After that, watch their event calendar for notification of specially designated dog walk days and times.
There are some great Labor Day sales coming up Labor Day weekend including all along Fifth Avenue South and at the Village Shops on Venetian Bay.
Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery in not having a Labor Day swamp walk event this year. Instead, the gallery will host a fundraiser Oct. 29-30 for the Big Cypress National Preserve’s education department with swamp walks led by park rangers. You can sign up now for those pre-Halloween swamp tours at clydebutcher.com.
JoNell Modys is the public relations and communications manager for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tourism marketing organization for Collier County, where more than 1.8 million visitors annually provide an economic impact of nearly $2 billion. Check the destination website, paradisecoast.com, for more ideas on what to see and do in Florida’s Paradise Coast.