VAN WERT — While the mostly dry summer has curbed the mosquito population in west central Ohio, two area counties received grants from the Ohio Department of Health to help further control the population of the potentially disease-carrying insect.
The Van Wert County Health Department and the Putnam County Health Department were each awarded with funding from the second round of the ODH Mosquito Control Grant Program, joining 29 other health departments splitting a total of more than $691,000 in funding. The hope is that funding surveillance, larval and adult mosquito control, reducing breeding sources, and fostering community outreach and education efforts will help mitigate the spread of viruses such as Zika, West Nile and La Crosse encephalitis, all spread by mosquitoes feeding on infected blood.
Van Wert, having received $20,000 in funding, hopes to perform surveillance on mosquito populations in the county, something that has not been done in at least 12 years, according to Environmental Health Director Britt Menchhofer. The bulk of the funds, however, will be devoted to a “tire amnesty day,” in which residents could dispose of old tires at no cost, providing fewer potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
“We’re hoping to work with our Solid Waste Management District to set up a day,” she said. “The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are actually a type of mosquito that likes to breed in stagnant water, so tires can be a huge source of that issue.”
Menchhofer also hopes to use some of the funds for educational activities as well as potential larvacide dunks to place in water sources that could serve as mosquito breeding grounds.
Putnam County received $5,000, and according to Environmental Health Director Brandi Schrader, the county has already used the funds to purchase larvacide and repellents that are available at no charge to county residents.
“We have a variety of options available for citizens down to infant sizes,” she said. “They range from bracelets to stickers to spray repellent. We also have coils available.”
Putnam County residents can go to the Health Department, 256 Williamstown Road, Ottawa, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to pick up repellent supplies. Larvacide dunks and granules will also be available.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.