Zika Virus Prompts Hiring At Local Mosquito Control Centers

Apr 19, 2016

The Zika virus has prompted Orange and Seminole counties to add mosquito control staff.

Orange County wants to add 10 seasonal full-time workers to respond to calls. The county is getting calls from residents worried about mosquito breeding in their neighborhood.

“And that’s understood based on the media attention,” said Kelly Deutsch, acting manager of Orange County’s mosquito control. “And so we like to be able to respond to every single person that calls in, and that means we’re doing more neighborhood inspections. What that means is our field staff go basically door-to-door in a neighborhood.”

In other parts of Central Florida:

Seminole County wants to add two new positions because of the virus.

“Beyond that, we have been using other staff (outside of Mosquito Control) within the Watershed Management Division to assist with [mosquito control] duties as a result of Zika (and El Nino),” wrote Kim Ornberg, manager of the Seminole County Public Works Watershed Management Division. “Also, we have conducted cross training of staff in other divisions within the County to assist with source control and fogging, if needed.”

Volusia County is adding two seasonal workers, but that’s standard for this time of year. Osceola and Brevard counties aren’t adding positions.

In Florida, 88 people have caught the Zika virus, including five pregnant women. But so far, Floridians are catching the virus in places like Puerto Rico, Brazil, Haiti and bringing it back. The sunshine state’s luck may not hold out as the state gets hotter and wetter, and mosquitoes have better breeding conditions.

Zika is a mild virus in adults, but causes microcephaly in babies if caught by pregnant women.

“It’s everybody’s responsibility to make sure that they reduce any sort of breeding habitat these mosquitoes can develop in,” Deutsch said. “That helps not only yourself but all of your neighbors.”

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Reporter Abe Aboraya is part of WMFE in Orlando. WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.