The Louisiana Department of Health is awarding two $250,000 grants to establish mosquito abatement districts in St. Mary and Assumption parishes. The grants, sub-awards of a larger grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will allow these parishes to start in-house mosquito abatement districts.

The money from the grants can be used to purchase equipment and supplies to jump-start local mosquito control efforts. Equipment and supplies include vehicles, spray units, radios, GPS systems, laboratory and rearing equipment, computers and office supplies to establish a turn-key mosquito surveillance and control operation.

The funds can’t be used for salaries or contract surveillance or application services.

“So far this year, 72 positive cases of West Nile have been identified in Louisiana. These grants allow these two parishes to build the infrastructure to control mosquito populations to protect the public from diseases like West Nile,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health.

Mosquito surveillance, which is the seasonal monitoring of mosquito larva and adults, allows communities to identify which mosquito species are present in the area, monitor changes in mosquito populations and detect mosquito-borne diseases. All of these factors help determine more effectively which mosquito control measures should be taken and assists in targeting spraying efforts.

“Surveillance-based local mosquito abatement districts provide a tremendous benefit to their communities,” State Medical Entomologist Kyle Moppert said. “Identifying disease-carrying mosquitoes and keeping them under control helps keep the community safe from a host of mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and Zika.”