Sarasota County to give away free repellent to trick-or-treaters amid Zika concerns

AP/Felipe Dana
AP/Felipe Dana

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – As trick-or-treaters prepare to hit the streets this evening, they’ll encounter goblins, vampires, and mosquitoes.

Dusk is prime time for these tiny little vampires to suck blood. And in recent months, mosquito control departments across Florida have been working to contain the spread of the Zika virus.

In Miami Beach, city officials are draining water and passing out mosquito repellent to keep kids and adults safe.

And Sarasota County is doing its part too. There have been five reported cases of Zika, but they have all been travel related. So far there have been no cases of locally-transmitted Zika. But officials are still taking precautions.

Over the past few days, they’ve been doing surveillance and capturing mosquitoes for testing. They are one of the few agencies in the state with equipment to test mosquitoes for the virus.

They’re also keeping a close eye on neighborhoods where they’ve received a lot of complaints. But they need the trick-or-treaters to do their part too.

“We can’t just go spray the entire county to try and make sure there’s no mosquitoes for anybody so it really comes down to personal protection,” said the director of Sarasota County Mosquito Management.

On Halloween, the county department is offering free mosquito repellent for anyone who comes by their office at 5531 Pinkey Avenue.

They also offer free chemicals to help treat standing water and tiny mosquito-eating fish that can be dropped into ponds.

“There’s no reason to worry about [Zika.] Now there are other viruses that you know you should just worry about all the time, just to a level where you should protect yourself though,” explained Smith.

Folks should always be cautious of other diseases spread by mosquitoes like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. So ultimately, officials say that parents and trick-or-treaters should not be fearful of going outside on Halloween. Instead, they should make sure they’re taking the proper precautions.