24 HE ALTH The dangers of the Zika virus still lurk in South Florida and could return to our area soon Q BY EMILY GOLDMAN Silent Swarm The disease is spread primarily through mosquito bites. Every Floridian knows the dangers that rest in standing water, but few think of the many maladies contractible from a mosquito bite. Therefore, doctors warn Floridians and state visitors to be even more wary of things that fly and suck blood. Making matters more difficult for Florida residents, mosquito populations tend to be larger the warmer and wetter it gets. Despite absence of much in the way of recent news coverage, the virus has not gone away, but rather lessened during the cooler winter months. “There is a seasonal variation in the spread of this disease which coincides with the varying mosquito populations,” says Dr. Saima Aftab, Nicklaus Children's Hospital’s chief of fetal care center and chief of neona-tal/perinatal services, in Miami. “The risk for spread of Zika is highest in the summer months where the heat and abundant rainfall leads mosquito populations to grow. By win-ter the risk of mosquito transmitted illnesses such as Zika decreases significantly.” With mulitple rivers, wetlands, an ocean and a proclivity for thunderstorms, Jack-sonville is more than suitable as a mosquito breeding ground. The Zika virus buzzed in and out of news outlets for much of last year, and for good reason. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has yet to find a vaccine or cure for the virus, which can result in serious health problems.