The biggest challenge is open ditches," Matassa said. "Water sits still in the ditches, making it the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The water from ditches eventually ends up in storm drains and encourages breeding.

With the election coming up in November and the potential of money to be freed up from Animal Control, David Matassa, Director of Mosquito Control, would like to have $400,000 funded towards mosquito control.

Matassa spoke at the Ascension Parish Council Meeting with a potential plan if this funding shift is implemented. The current budget for Mosquito Control is $97,000. The expansion of the parish means they may need a higher budget to assist the growing number of people, as well as address recent reports of viruses from mosquitoes.

"An increase in reports have been made online about mosquito viruses reaching a shocking 80 percent, while we've received 900 reports via calls in less than 12 days," Matassa said.

As a result, Mosquito Control workers have been working overtime to try and control the outbreak, but without an increased budget, they aren’t able to reach every area efficiently.

There have been 17 different cases reported in Louisiana this year: nine neuro, two fevers, and six of the human West Nile virus.

The biggest challenge is open ditches," Matassa said. "Water sits still in the ditches, making it the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The water from ditches eventually ends up in storm drains and encourages breeding.

"When the control unit finds a breeding area, we use a method called surveillance. Through surveillance, we will send a species to LSU to identify any diseases and focus on the area that may have a positive West Nile Virus, thus targeting that area with the appropriate chemicals to rid the mosquitoes before they infect any humans or animals.

However, some of the species may not be easily identified due to an incubation period of 0-15 days.

If funding from Animal Control were to move into Mosquito Control after the November election, it would help increase the quality of care the control center is able to provide.

"Typically, a mosquito spray truck could use $100-200 worth of chemicals (CDC approved), or spray, per night, depending on the area they are covering," Matassa said.

Areas that Mosquito Control covers can range between 40-50 miles, varying on the extent of an outbreak. Something like Zika Virus, for example, is important to combat.

"If a pregnant woman gets the Zika virus, it can attack the baby and cause their brains to become inflamed,” Matassa said.

"You've had about 4,000 request per year," Councilman Dempsey Lambert said. "How have you doubled the workload since 2016 without requesting extra funding for Mosquito Control before?”

Matassa replied, "Adding part-time workers has helped a lot because they'll drive the trucks with the spray. However, because of the increase in reports this year, we will have to go to the Finance Committee if the funding isn't granted after the election, because with more reports and requests for spraying, the more funding we need to continue supplying quality work."

The main concern is a growing parish. It is important to increase the funding in correlation with the years. Typically, Mosquito Control funding has come out of health funding, but dedicated funding towards it would be something to look into as diseases increase.

Many of those in the council support the funding towards Mosquito Control, especially during the summer and fall seasons, because things like outdoor sports are occurring. It is a concern for families and their pets when faced with keeping their families healthy.

Another place the extra funding may go towards is recreation, because many of the parks are outdated, including equipment.

"Due to a lack of additional funding towards this area, recreation centers, sports areas, and parks have a large portion of potential that is being wasted," Recreation Director B. J. Romano said. "With extra funding, they could be updated, as well as create potential for new developments."

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