GCHD Receiving $613,000 for Zika Prevention and Response
The Galveston County Health District (GCHD) is enhancing its Zika prevention, preparedness and response efforts with $613,000 in new federal funding through the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). GCHD will utilize the funding on Zika surveillance, planning, response, outreach and education.
“Zika virus continues to be an emerging health threat we all need to take seriously,” said Dr. Philip Keiser, Galveston County Local Health Authority. “In the event of locally-acquired cases in our county, this new funding allows us to have even more of the resources needed to protect our community.”
GCHD plans to direct approximately $126,000 of the funding to Galveston County Mosquito Control for vector control. This portion of money will be used by the department to purchase handheld foggers, backpack sprayers, chemicals, traps, labor and other items needed for neighborhood spraying in the event locally-acquired cases occur in the county.
“The species of mosquito known to transmit Zika virus tends to stay close to homes and not travel far,” said John Marshall, director of Galveston County Mosquito Control. “That’s why having resources like handheld foggers and backpack sprayers that allow us to get directly into yards is so important.”
The reminder of the funding will be used by GCHD primarily for surveillance supplies, prevention kits and public awareness. The prevention kits will include mosquito dunks, mosquito repellents, condoms and other items.
“Having these kits is important when we conduct door-to-door surveillance in the event of local transmission of Zika,” said Randy Valcin, GCHD director of epidemiology and public health emergency preparedness. “The kits will be distributed in the neighborhoods of locally-acquired cases so people at increased risk will have the tools to protect themselves.”
GCHD will expand its Zika public awareness campaign with advertising on billboards, social media, websites, newspapers and other platforms. Additionally, the Health District will hire a health communications specialist to initiate targeted public awareness campaigns with an emphasis on Zika.
“Our ‘Fight the Bite” campaign has been ongoing for about a year but this funding will allow us to get it in front of more eyes,” said Scott Packard, GCHD director of communications. “People get their information from a variety of platforms and we’re excited about being able to reach more people with important Zika prevention tips.”
The funding is a portion of $9.7 million DSHS is allocating to local health departments for Zika response and prevention. GCHD was allotted $613,380 and submitted a budget for its proposed use of the funding this week. Approval to move forward is expected by March and the funding runs through mid-2018.
“We’ve planned for the possibility of locally-acquired Zika cases in our county over the past year,” said Kathy Barroso, GCHD CEO. “This new funding allows us to have even more resources to make sure that our response is fast, effective and provides the maximum protection to our county.”
Learn more about Zika at www.gchd.org/zika.