Sarasota to bring Zika testing in-house

- Sitting in a freezer at Sarasota County Mosquito Management, in a box labeled "Rack III #5," sits a vial containing a form of the Zika virus.

"It is one of those things where the public health benefit outweighs cost and effort," said Matt Smith, the director of Mosquito Management.

Sarasota County Mosquito Management will use the vial to test for Zika in other mosquitos they believe are infected.

"It just has to be done if you really want to be serious about protecting the general health," continued Smith.

Within two months, Sarasota county will begin testing for Zika.  It will help their response time grow.  If a case is found, they will know it within 24 hours; sometimes quicker.

"That is what you call actionable intelligence. The best way you can put it. Knowing a disease is in a specific location the sooner the better. Every minute that passes that you're not killing those mosquitos carrying it is another minute that they have the chance to bite somebody," said Smith.

Mosquito management is upgrading their lab to become one of the first to test directly for Zika.  Most counties have to send mosquito samples out to other labs across Florida, which can sometimes take days for the results to come back.

Doctor Vilma Vega, an infectious disease consultant, said time is key to fighting Zika.

"I think the fact that we are able to find it much quicker, perhaps that will put specific areas under more concern, you could rapidly try and extinguish some of those mosquitos," she said.

For doctors fighting the virus on the front line, the quicker the better.

"It can spread relatively quickly if one of the mosquitos is not caught that we did not know it. Now it's the heat of summer season. The heat of mosquito season," added Dr. Vega.

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