Warm winter fuels Zika fears in Central Florida

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A warmer-than-average winter has got mosquito control workers concerned that the Zika virus could still be spreading as the weather hasn’t gotten cold enough to kill off the pests.

Orange County Mosquito Control received 200 calls in January asking for mosquito traps to be set and areas sprayed, officials said.

That is more than double the number the department received in January 2015.

Resident Jonathan Lee has definitely noticed more mosquitoes this winter than in winters past.

“We were definitely getting bit a couple weeks ago,” he said. “It seems like it was unseasonable.”

Joe Kivett said he had seen the pests much more recently.

“We actually saw some while walking around Lake Eola two nights ago,” he said.

It only takes a very small amount of water to give mosquitoes a place to breed and even though it isn’t the rainy season in Central Florida, experts said sprinklers can cause enough standing water to let them lay eggs.

Counties around the state are bolstering their mosquito control staffs and last week Gov. Rick Scott announced $1.3 million would be given to the University of Central Florida to develop a Zika vaccine.

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