Hillsborough County pumps $475,000 more into fighting mosquitoes in wake of Zika virus scare
TAMPA -- As the world grapples with Zika virus concerns, Hillsborough County is pumping money into fighting mosquitos.
Commissioners voted 7-0 to raise the public works department budget for 2016 by $475,870, or a 12 percent increase, that will go toward fighting the mosquitoes known to carry the Zika virus. Of the amount, $88,000 is for personnel services, largely overtime, and $387,870 is for operating expenses.
“It’s common sense,” Commissioner Al Higginbotham said.
Public Works Director John Lyons told commissioners that the county will set up additional mosquito traps in 20 locations. The species of mosquito that carry the virus tend to congregate and breed in urban areas, often in man-made containers.
In recent weeks, the county has collected 209 tires from right of ways and another 363 tires were turned over by residents in an amnesty program. About 450 abandoned pools were inspected and standing water and trash were removed from 100 illegal dumping sites.
The mosquitoes that carries the Zika virus, which sparked an international health crisis and may be linked to a rise in newborn brain defects in South America, are not particularly strong and don't live long. But they are also not easy to kill through traditional methods. For example, they are mostly out during the day, and therefore, nighttime chemical spraying is not as as effective.
“We will strategically spray,” Lyons said. “We don’t want to use chemicals to use chemicals. Overuse is not good.”
Douglas Holt, director of the Hillsborough County Department of Health, said the three people in Hillsborough County infected by Zika virus are no longer contagious. All three individuals contracted the disease during travel.
Holt also said the department was monitoring six pregnant women here.