Heavy rains and rising temperatures might signal the early arrival of mosquitoes in San Antonio, but the City’s Metropolitan Health District is collaborating with Bexar County Public Works to attack the potential problem.
Metro Health confirmed three cases of the Zika virus — spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito — in Bexar County on Friday, but said there were no confirmed identifications of mosquitoes carrying the virus.
However, officials aren’t taking any chances.
“We started our program early this year,” said Renee Green, the director of public works for Bexar County, at a Tuesday press conference. The County has three mosquito trucks that will begin fogging unincorporated areas on April 1. Public Works employees already have set 18 mosquito traps and hope to set as many as 30 traps in the coming weeks.
Organizations like TCI, Parks and Recreation and Code Compliance have partnered with City and County officials to improve treatment to government-owned properties and public outreach.
“Most of the mosquito breeding actually takes place on residential property, which is why its so important to educate our residents to how they can prevent mosquito breeding,” said Roger Pollock, Metro Health’s emergency preparedness coordinator and interim health director.
Since March 7, the City has distributed more than 4,000 posters to residential neighborhoods, homeowners and public places that assist with emergency management. The campaign advises residents to “dump the water,” and to avoid stagnant bodies of water, which attract mosquitoes.
The Centers for Disease Control recently announced that it would be providing primer probe sets to cities, including San Antonio, with a laboratory response network over the next couple of weeks. Samples from Bexar County patients showing symptoms of the Zika virus are currently sent to the State Health Department in Austin and then processed by the CDC, but the process often takes weeks before results arrive.
“The sets would allow us to shorten turnaround time,” Pollock said, adding that San Antonio could receive samples from other cities as well. “Testing could take three to four days, depending on how many samples (we) receive.”
Tips to Avoid Mosquitoes:
- Use air conditioning or window/door screens
- Use mosquito repellant on skin and clothing, even during the day
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Dump stagnant water from outdoor containers; refresh water sources for pets
Top Image: Media personal surround Bexar County Director of Public Works / County Engineer Renee Green during an interview on the counties mosquito abatement program. Photo by Scott Ball.