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Abbott calls on mayors, county judges to help with Zika prevention

From staff reports
May 4, 2017 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated May 5, 2017 at 11:15 a.m.

Dallas County Mosquito Lab microbiologist Spencer Lockwood sorts mosquitos collected in a trap, left, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Hutchins, Texas, that had been set up in Dallas County near the location of a confirmed Zika virus infection. Although there has been no reported cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitos in Texas, health officials are closely monitoring and testing mosquitos in areas where infections have been confirmed. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Gov. Greg Abbott and the Department of State Health Services are calling on mayors and county judges to help reduce mosquito breeding grounds and, in effect, the spread of the Zika virus.

A letter sent Thursday from Abbott and department Commissioner John Hellerstedt asks city and county leaders to organize Zika prevention measures in their communities.

"Your role as county judges and mayors places you at the forefront of emergency response," the letter states.

"Due to the Zika virus' ability to cause birth defects, the Department of State Health Services public health measures we take together will help prevent serious health impacts on the next generation of Texans. We expect local mosquito transmission of Zika to resume and persist as the weather warms and mosquito activity increases."

The letter asks for help in "promoting precautions to prevent mosquito bites and taking action to reduce mosquito breeding grounds in your communities," including:

Coordinating community cleanup of areas known for having items or areas that collect water and allow mosquitoes to breed;

Coordinating neighborhood outreach about precautions that residents can take to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites; and

Initiating or enhancing monitoring and surveillance of mosquito activity and accelerate abatement efforts, including use of larvicide.

Longview Mayor Andy Mack said the city has been coordinating its efforts with Gregg County.

"The city of Longview takes a proactive approach that focuses on reducing the conditions that are favorable to mosquito population growth," Mack said.

"Rather than doing widespread spraying of pesticide, we focus on targeting areas of standing water that attract mosquitoes. In addition, staff regularly monitors the mosquito population numbers in various locations throughout the community."

Eleven Zika cases have been reported in Texas this year, according to the Department of State Health Services. In 2015 and 2016, 322 state cases were reported — one case each in Gregg, Upshur and Rusk counties.

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