Galveston Gets $600,000 to Step Up Anti-Zika Battle

The Galveston County Health District is enhancing its Zika prevention, preparedness and response efforts with $613,000 in new federal funding through the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The money will fund Zika surveillance, planning, response, outreach and education.

“Zika virus continues to be an emerging health threat we all need to take seriously,” said Galveston health expert Dr. Philip Keiser. “This new funding allows us to have even more of the resources needed to protect our community.”

The agency will direct about $126,000 to Galveston County Mosquito Control to buy hand-held foggers, backpack sprayers, chemicals, traps, labor and other items needed for neighborhood spraying in care there are locally acquired cases of Zika.

“The species of mosquito known to transmit Zika virus tends to stay close to homes and not travel far,” said John Marshall, Galveston County Mosquito Control director. “That’s why having resources like handheld foggers and backpack sprayers that allow us to get directly into yards is so important.”

The rest of the money will be used mostly for surveillance supplies, prevention kits and public awareness. The prevention kits will include mosquito dunks, mosquito repellents and other items.

“Having these kits is important when we conduct door-to-door surveillance in the event of local transmission of Zika,” said Randy Valcin,  director of epidemiology and public health emergency preparedness. “The kits will be distributed in the neighborhoods of locally- acquired cases so people at increased risk will have the tools to protect themselves.”

GCHD will expand its Zika public awareness campaign with advertising on billboards, social media, websites, newspapers and other platforms. Additionally, the Health District will hire a health communications specialist to initiate targeted public awareness campaigns with an emphasis on Zika.

“Our ‘Fight the Bite” campaign has been ongoing for about a year, but this funding will allow us to get it in front of more eyes,” said Scott Packard, director of communications.

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