Florida’s mosquito control districts are hoping to convince lawmakers to increase their funding to help fight the Zika virus—a mosquito borne disease that can cause severe birth defects.
There were more than 1,600 cases of the Zika virus last year, which included travel-related and locally acquired cases as well as cases involving pregnant women. This year, there are already more than 30 Zika cases.
So, as Summer approaches, Pasco County Mosquito Control District Director Dennis Moore says the Florida Mosquito Control Association is watching the virus very carefully. He likens it to Hurricane season.
“The hurricanes come across,” said Moore. “We don’t know where the hurricane is going, and similarly, we don’t know where Zika might end up this year. Last year, it was in the Miami area. This year, we don’t know where it’s going, and we can’t sit and wait for it to happen. We can’t be reactive to this. We have to prepare ahead of times. So, we need the additional funds to help our programs to prepare.”
He says it doesn't help that the aedes aegypti is the carrier for the Zika virus.
“Because the approach on controlling this type of mosquito is different than other types of mosquitoes,” Moore added. “With the necessary boots on the ground, we have to do door-to-door inspections. This is very unique for us, and it’s very important that we have the resources and the funding.”
Last year, mosquito controllers received $2.6 million in the budget. This year, they’re asking for $3.8 million.
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