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Mosquito fight funding increase sought

Zika.PNG

The Zika virus-- it hit Florida hard last year. The state had 279 locally transmitted cases of Zika last year, in addition to nearly 1,100 people who acquired the illness from travel abroad, according to Department of Health numbers.

With concerns the warm winter could be a sign of another outbreak, the state's mosquito agencies went to Tallahassee in recent days, asking lawmakers to increase funding for eradication and research.

The Florida Mosquito Control Association’s request is for and additional $1.2 million.

Rob Robbins, director of Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management, said on Monday, the County’s Mosquito Control budget has held steady at about $2 million a year. Robbins said only about $40,000 come from the state, to buy chemicals.

Since last year's Zika emergency, though, the state Department of Health has sent counties additional money to fight mosquitos.

Palm Beach County has been receiving an extra $80,000-plus a month, even during the current mosquito off-season.

Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties are among six “high risk” counties still getting special funding to fight mosquitos.

"We've been using a lot of the money, to upgrade a lot of our equipment-- our spray equipment," much of which was pretty old, said Palm Beach County Mosquito Control analyst Chris Reisinger.

Even the warmer winter, Reisinger said the biggest mosquito factor is rain. A dry winter has sent mosquito populations plummeting.

But Reisinger cautioned, "As soon as it rains, we're going to see an influx of mosquitos."

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