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The Miami-Dade County Department of Solid Waste Management (DSWM) informs the public that the Mosquito Control Division has a new Division Chief, Dr. John-Paul Mutebi. The scientist and industry veteran takes over for the previous director, Dr. William Petrie, who retired last spring, and the acting chief Dr. Isik Unlu, who will now return to full-time duties as the Division’s Operations Manager. Dr. Mutebi will be leading a team of 50 inspectors, supervisors, environmental technicians, laboratory technicians, and administrative staff.
“Dr. Mutebi is an extremely important asset to our great mosquito control team and I am confident he will help sustain and enhance our critical efforts to prevent and combat diseases transmitted via mosquitoes,” says Solid Waste Management Department Interim Director Olga Espinosa-Anderson. “We welcome him to the Miami-Dade County Solid Waste family and wish him well on his journey.”
Dr. Mutebi comes to Miami-Dade County from the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) where he was a Research Entomologist. Above all, his time at the CDC was spent responding to vector-borne disease outbreaks, including the local Zika outbreak of 2016.
Thanks to his vast field and academic experience, he advised groups setting up surveillance programs and oversaw their operations.
“I am a medical entomologist, so you are going to see me in the lab and out in the field because that is where the work is done, that is where the problems are,” said Dr. John-Paul Mutebi. “Miami-Dade County has a stellar program, and I am looking forward to sustain and improve our services to ensure that the division is working at its full potential to protect our residents.”
One of Dr. Mutebi’s goals for our program is to increase the detection of mosquito-borne diseases in the area to reduce transmission and prevent outbreaks in Miami-Dade County, instead of reacting to them as part of a disaster response team. Dengue is top of mind most recently, with the number of locally acquired cases topping out at 156 in 2023.
Additional goals as division director include improving the quality of life for residents by better-controlling not just disease-spreading, but nuisance biting mosquitoes; getting the timing of Miami-Dade’s control methods just right to become more efficient; and installing a system that better prepares the county for the next outbreak. He would also like to stimulate more research, both in partnering with local academic institutions, and by working with graduate students in training. Self-describing his management style as hands-on, Dr. Mutebi looks forward to the work ahead.
Dr. Mutebi studied biological sciences in his native Uganda, and emigrated to the United States in 1989 to attend graduate school at the University of Notre Dame where he earned a Master of Science Degree and a PhD in Medical Entomology. He is married and has two teenage boys who live in Fort Collins, CO., along with their mother.