Champaign County will receive more than $37,000 as part of the second round of statewide mosquito control grants.
The grant award was announced Tuesday during a presentation by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler and state Medical Director Dr. Mary DiOrio of the Ohio Department of Health announced the second round of funding for community health departments and related public entities across the state to help mitigate the spread of mosquito-borne viruses such as Zika, West Nile and La Cross Encephalitis.
The county will receive $37,300 as part of the $691,340 in grants issued to 31 counties in the Ohio Department of Health’s effort to mitigate the potential for an outbreak of mosquito-borne viruses.
The first round of grants totaled $250,000 issued in 18 counties.
Butler said the purpose of the grants awarded to health departments, health districts and related public entities is for surveillance, applying mosquito control measures and supporting the Ohio Department of Health’s efforts to mitigate potential for an outbreak of mosquito-borne viruses.
As part of a collaborative effort, Butler said, applicants show they have a financial need, allowing the state entities to provide grant funding.
“We’re most excited to showcase the Champaign County Health District and recognize their unique collaboration with the city of Urbana, villages of Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris,” Butler said. “These are the types of collaborative efforts that I know the governor and the general assembly encourage us to develop to improve our services and maximize our public resources.”
Champaign County Health Commissioner Jeff Web said the health district has already conducted mosquito surveillance by trapping mosquitoes for the past two months and has educational information to distribute to health care providers and schools. Webb said the district is also looking at performing either general solid waste removal or tire removal on a limited basis in the county.
Webb said Urbana and the local villages have been proactive in spraying against mosquitoes.
“I think it’s been pretty effective because the number of mosquitoes that we have trapped for the past couple of months has been pretty small and I think we can at least attribute part of that to the spraying activities that our villages and the city of Urbana have done,” Webb said.
County officials working together
Speaking further on the collaborative efforts of the health district and county entities, Butler said the parties came to the Ohio EPA with a joint proposal for how work needed to be divided in the county.
“All of them could have come to us individually and we could have worked out a way to probably secure funding for each one of them,” Butler said. “But it’s really a better effort when they’re able to work together and collaborate to come up with a program that’s really across the county.”
Butler noted there are still more grant awards to come as the Ohio EPA will be reaching out to health departments and health districts that have not received grant funding from the first two rounds. He said the next round of grant funding will total about $1.1 million.
DiOrio said a number of Ohioans have traveled to Zika-infected countries where they have been bitten by infected mosquitoes and have developed symptoms of infection upon returning home. As of last week, DiOrio said the state has had 42 travel associated Zika virus cases and one case where the virus was acquired by sexual transmission.
“It wouldn’t be surprising for us to continue to see more cases in Ohio as we do have a lot of Ohioans who travel abroad and are going to countries and areas where there’s been Zika virus transmission,” DiOrio said. She added the greatest risk to Ohioans is people who travel abroad or to areas where there has been a Zika virus transmission.
In August, the Champaign County Health District reported one case of Zika virus in a returning traveler.
DiOrio said at this time there is no vaccine or specific treatments for the Zika virus making prevention key.
“We still have mosquito season in Ohio right now. We want to eliminate any mosquito breeding sites,” DiOrio said. “We’re asking Ohioans to look around their homes and see whether or not there are things they should be doing to prevent mosquito transmission or any type of mosquito illnesses in Ohio which would include eliminating standing water and then when people are outside they should take protections to make sure they don’t get bitten by mosquitoes.”
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.