The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced that it has awarded $13 million to the Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust (ST&R Trust) to establish the first Vector Control Unit (VCU) in Puerto Rico, which will oversee and implement comprehensive mosquito control activities to help prevent and manage diseases spread by mosquitoes. 

Puerto Rico/CIA
Puerto Rico/CIA

The best way to reduce spread of Zika and other viruses spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes throughout Puerto Rico is to rapidly implement a combination of mosquito control methods, or integrated vector management, to reduce the mosquito population. 

The CDC funding will support the ST&R Trust as they set up the VCU, which will develop an integrated mosquito surveillance and control plan and carry out mosquito control activities throughout Puerto Rico. CDC and the government of Puerto Rico will assist the ST&R Trust as they begin the mosquito control program, starting in areas of greatest need. If additional funding becomes available, it may be provided for the VCU. 

Integrated vector management uses several approaches to reduce mosquito populations, including elimination of standing water sources where mosquitoes lay eggs and use of adulticides, larvicides, and mosquito traps. Community engagement and education is also an integral part of this approach, so that members of the community understand the risks of diseases like Zika and how they can best protect themselves from mosquito bites. 

The ongoing Zika outbreak and previous outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases have highlighted the need for an integrated vector management approach to control Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Puerto Rico. 

As of September 23, CDC has obligated more than $210 million of the $222 million in repurposed funds available for domestic Zika preparedness, including more than $110 million to support state, territorial, and local jurisdictions to fight Zika. As of September 23, HHS has obligated $379 million in redirected funds for domestic Zika response.