Don't know if you've been outside much after dark lately, but if you have, you already know: bug season is fast upon us. As South Florida begins easing into the summer season, the people walking in from an extended period outside at night are going to start looking like they caught chicken pox. Wet weather combined with higher temperatures are the perfect conditions for mosquito populations.
And a recent study has determined that Fort Lauderdale ranks among the worst cities in the US for mosquitos — a particularly troubling development for the region considering the mosquito-borne diseases that have been making an appearance here in recent years.
The list was compiled by pro bug busters, Orkin. The company complied a list of the worst 20 cities in the United States for mosquitos. The ranking, according to the company's release, is based on the number of mosquito calls Orkin handled in 2014. Under those guidelines, the Fort Lauderdale-Miami area combined is the 13th worst city in the US for mosquitos.
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Topping the list: Atlanta. Coming in just ahead of Fort Lauderdale: the Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek area in Michigan. Just below Fort Lauderdale: Richmond, Virginia.
Now, you might be thinking: 13th isn't that bad. Well, the problem with the list is that is seems to forget the scourge of last summer's news cycle: chikungunya. The blood-borne disease, which can cause high fever, extreme joint pain in the arms and legs, and a rash, first turned up in the Caribbean. Last summer, the first local cases were diagnosed across South Florida, which turned out to be the virus' debut in the US.
Public health officials feared that a full-blown, mosquito-induced, epidemic. Those concerns were sidelined somewhat last year when ebola hogged most of the public-health spotlight. But chikungunya very well could return this year. And considering South Florida is one of top locations in the country for mosquitos . . . you see where this is going.