Okeechobee County taking first steps to become Mosquito Control County

Posted at 12:15 AM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 04:18:57-04

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. -- The first case of travel-related Zika virus has been confirmed in Okeechobee County.

Now, residents and county leaders are taking a more serious look at their lack of mosquito control and prevention efforts.

RELATED: More Zika coverage

Okeechobee County is one of only about ten counties in the state that do not have a state-approved mosquito control.

The serious health risks associated with the Zika virus are leading county leaders to take the first steps to become a county with mosquito control.

“We don’t have that expertise,” said County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper.

Residents are mostly tasked with protecting their properties from mosquitos themselves.

“We have a little portable fogger that we usually use,” said Okeechobee resident Rachael Collier.

Culpepper says the county's emergency operations director will first have to get special certifications, hopefully by six months from now.

“He should have the certifications and everything done, and then at that point we will be a legitimate mosquito control county,” Culpepper said.

Being a state-approved mosquito control county opens the door for the county to access more funding for mosquito prevention efforts.

Collier supports the county doing more to prevent the mosquitos that can carry the Zika virus.

“I think they need to spray. I think they need to do something permanent,” said Collier, who watched two of her sons play baseball Thursday night. 

“You think about [Zika] when they go out, but you spray them down with OFF and hope for the best,” Collier said.

Their coach, Matt Durno, feels the same way.

“Kid’s safety is our number one priority,” said Durno.

The county has placed mosquito traps in several areas.

This week, county leaders also signed a contract with a private mosquito control company to start spraying for mosquitos within the next week.

Code Enforcement is also checking properties for standing water.