Crawfordville, Florida- July 6, 2012
Two weeks after Tropical Storm Debby, people in Wakulla County are facing a new problem: mosquitoes.
Health Officials say because of the unusually warm winter and the pools of stagnant water left behind by Debby, they've seen the area's mosquito population increase this year.
So far, health officials say they've sprayed and used larvicide at more than 170 homes. Seventy of those homes have been sprayed in the two weeks since Debby hit.
The increase in the mosquito population has health officials worried about the spread of disease.
"Mosquitoes can carry many different diseases, things such as Encephalitis, West Nile, many other types of diseases. So it's very important that we try and get their populations down so they don't pose a risk to the community," says Keith Lawhon of the Wakulla County Health Department.
Lawhon says the county began spraying back in April. The county will spray at the homes of any residents who call and request it and in the areas the county deems need it.
Typically, the county has about $38,000 set aside in its annual budget to go towards spraying. The money is used to purchase chemicals and pay the salaries of workers.
But Lawhon is hoping the county receives a 'Disaster Declaration' from the federal government because of Tropical Storm Debby.
He says the declaration will allow the county to receive public assistance from the federal government which it can use to hire more people and more trucks in addition to the two it has and even do some aerial spraying.
Crews usually spray between dusk and dawn. Spraying begins in the Spring and continues until the cold weather comes in. Lawhon says the chemicals they use do not pose any health risks to people or animals.
People who want their homes sprayed can called the health department at 850-926-0400 ext. 214. There is no cost to residents. Lawhon recommends having your home sprayed once a week.
Lawhon also advises people who want to stay safe to avoid going outdoors between dusk and dawn, wear clothes that fully cover them, if they do go outside, use DEET or other insect repellents and dispose of any stagnant water that may build up because of the rain.
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