Health officials, mosquito experts talk Zika-fighting strategy

Gov. Rick Scott sets aside $61 million for Zika prevention, preparedness

By Madeleine Wright - Reporter

DORAL, Fla. - County health officials and mosquito experts from all over the state met Monday in Doral to talk about strategies for killing Zika-carrying mosquitoes.

"They're just a tough mosquito to kill," said Chris Pederson, a mosquito control consultant at ADAPCO.

Gov. Rick Scott said even though Zika is not as big of a problem this year, we can't let our guard down because the Zika virus could flare up again.

South Florida was ground zero for the Zika virus last year, which is especially dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause birth defects.

Scott said he set aside $61 million for prevention and preparedness.

"I've talked to President Trump about this to make sure the federal government is going to be our partner in this fight," the governor said.

So far this year, there have been six cases of locally transmitted Zika infections, compared to 285 cases last year.

"While we certainly have fewer cases of Zika compared to last year, we must remain vigilant," Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip said.

One problem officials are trying to solve is how to speed up Zika testing.

"One of the issues we had last year is we sent tests to Colorado, and hopefully we won't have to do that any longer," Scott said.

More Zika testing is happening this year here in Florida.

"However, (the) CDC has issued information regarding current testing is not as accurate as we all would like," Philip said.

The state is investing $25 million for universities to develop better testing.

Officials said another problem is that the mosquitoes are becoming resistant to some pesticides, forcing officials to use rotating chemicals that the bugs aren't used to.

The governor is hoping researchers can develop a Zika vaccine to prevent further infections.

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