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Government/Politics

A Lack Of Funding Has South Texas Turning To Churches To Help Fight Spread Of Zika

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The Texas Tribune

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Credit Ryan E Poppe

Local health officials meeting in Austin Wednesday want state lawmakers to attract more federal dollars to combat mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika.

Eddie Olivarez is the chief administrative officer for the Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Department. He says the Rio Grande Valley is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and more education about avoiding mosquito bites is needed.

“Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that causes Zika, along with dengue and chikungunya, it is endemic in South Texas and endemic in a lot of the southern parts of Texas where it’s there all the time," Olivarez explains.

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Credit Ryan E Poppe
Group of city and county health officials from across the state discussing their individual challenges fighting the Zika virus.

Olivarez says his county has not received state or federal money to pay for going door to door to hand out Zika prevention kits and educational materials and is trying to do what it can without that assistance.

“And really we’ve already mobilized, we’re not waiting for the funding.  Okay, we’re doing the best we can with what we have.  We’re spending a lot of time and resources educating our community groups," Olivarez says.

Olivarez says in border counties like Hidalgo churches and other non-profits are stepping up to help educate residents about preventing Zika.