Mosquito Control hires temporary employee to help fight Zika in Palm Beach County

State grant payed for new positions
Posted at 7:12 PM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 05:14:10-04

Just in time, Palm Beach County Mosquito Control is adding more manpower to help fight Zika. Thanks to a state grant, the department hired a temporary employee Monday. The department plans on hiring another employee this week or next.

MAP: Tracking Zika cases in Florida | Special Section: Zika in Florida

Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday a Palm Beach County man recently contracted the Zika virus from a mosquito in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.

As the environmental analyst for Palm Beach County Mosquito Control, Chris Reisinger is on the hunt for the specific mosquito which transmits Zika: Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.

Now, he has help by his side. A new employee who started Monday will focus solely on setting and collecting traps targeting those mosquitos.

Reisinger counts and identifies mosquitos caught in the traps. And then, he sends samples to the state lab in Kissimmee, where experts determine whether each individual mosquito is infected with Zika.

“We can set the traps out quite a bit more and start sending hundreds of samples per week to the lab,” Reisinger explained.

He added collecting more mosquitos allows him and scientists with the state to track where these mosquitos live and breed.

“We can track general trends with them, so we can predict and hopefully eliminate any disease issues in the future,” he said.

Even with the extra employee, Reisinger said the agency can't control mosquitos by itself.

He needs you to be on the lookout for standing water in buckets, birdbaths and tires. Those are  perfect places for mosquitos to breed. Reisinger encourages you to dump water when you see it.

“Any artificial container holding water, or bromeliads, getting rid of those is the absolute best thing you can do,” he said pointing out aerial sprays aren’t as effective against these species of mosquito.

Glenna Bryan takes the advice seriously. The suburban Boynton Beach woman admits she accidentally left her dog bath outside.

“Standing water filled it and I did notice mosquitos,” she said. “So I got kind of nervous. I made sure I took that in and cleaned it out.”

Bryan lives near the Canyon communities west of Boynton Beach. Mosquito Control said neighbors there complain repeatedly about mosquitos in this part of the county.

The agency has since used a hand fogger in the area to kill adult mosquitos. Which Dana Silbersweig appreciates.

Her 16-month-old son loves to run around, but can't escape mosquitos.

“Even yesterday he had a lot of mosquito bites all over his legs and it's scary because you don't know what they carry,” she said.

Now, Silbersweig and Bryan, who recently became a grandmother, carry bug spray; a simple step to protect their children from getting sick.