The threat of mosquito-borne diseases in the US has prompted a plethora of scientists to develop new and improved forms of mosquito control. The Zika outbreaks have not been forgotten, and the West Nile virus continues to claim victims in the United States. This is why many of the world’s best and brightest minds are focusing on innovations in mosquito control techniques. However, the “best and brightest” does not refer to Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla. Bonilla has gained a bit of national recognition for her recent plan to combat mosquitoes with bats.
A few days ago, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Bonilla had been working with the Florida Bat Conservancy to have bat houses installed throughout her district. Many experts have claimed that bats are great for reducing mosquito populations. According to the National Institutes of Health, one single bat can consume hundreds of mosquitoes in just one hour. Then again, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed that bats are the most common source of rabies infection among humans in the United States. Human rabies cases are reported around once or twice a year in the US.
Although the county commissioner likely thinks that her idea to use bats for mosquito control is sensible, the county mayor does not seem to feel the same way. The mayor stated that she would rather be bitten by mosquitoes than contract rabies. When the mayor uttered this sentence she had been referencing a six year old boy who had died as a result of rabies infection last January in Florida. The high bat population in Florida has always been a concern among public health officials in the state. Bat attacks are not uncommon in Florida, as one resident from Hillsborough recently struggled to remove a bat from her arm two weeks ago. It is unlikely that Commissioner Bonilla’s mosquito control idea will find widespread support among experts.
Do you think that the threat of mosquito-borne disease in Florida is significant enough to warrant the construction of bat houses across the state?