BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Health has awarded a $605,000 grant to the East Baton Rouge Mosquito and Rodent Control District to purchase a tire shredder. LDH also awarded $250,000 each to Assumption and St. Mary parishes to establish their own mosquito abatement districts.
The grants are funded through a partnership with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). LDH says this is the first tire shredder grant awarded in the mainland United States.
“If we look at the history of public health globally, mosquitoes have had a bigger impact and have caused more deaths than any single vector," LDH Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee said. “We forget about public health until we need it. It’s a silent soldier in our communities and we don’t appreciate it until there’s an outbreak.”
Water can collect inside abandoned tires, made of heat-retaining black rubber that fosters a steamy breeding atmosphere for mosquitoes.
“Destroying a single tire as a breeding site is a cost effective way to reduce a community’s risk of getting sick from a mosquito bite,” public health entomologist Kyle Moppert said.
The smaller grants for St. Mary and Assumption parishes will allow their new mosquito abatement districts to purchase vehicles, spray units, radios, lab equipment, and office supplies.
“These grants allow these two parishes to build the infrastructure to control mosquito populations to protect the public from diseases like West Nile,” Gee said.
There have been 72 cases of West Nile virus in Louisiana this year.
Moppert said the CDC is awarding the state another $1 million grant that will allow four more parishes to establish mosquito abatement districts. Parishes can begin applying for a share of that grant money this week.