Bay County to Begin Aerial Mosquito Spraying This Week

Hurricane Ike has brought a health concern to the tri-state region. Storm surge along Panama City Beach has washed out a number of inland salt marshes, ideal mosquito breeding areas.

Brad Gunn, a former Fort Rucker flight instructor, pilots the converted OH-58 helicopter for the beach mosquito control district.

Wearing night vision goggles, he flies low over the reported areas' where mosquitoes are breeding and biting at unprecedented levels.

"Much more efficient at night when spraying for mosquitoes that's when they are most active. I fly about 150 feet above the ground," says Gunn.

The chemical dibrom is sprayed and it can cause minor eye irritation. Residents are urged not to look at the sky when the helicopter is flying low over their homes.

According to officials, one is more in danger from a health position to contract West Nile Virus, or Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Beach Mosquito Control Director, Ed Hunter, says "There is a case of West Nile in Pensacola, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Tallahassee. We want to ward off against such things."

The helicopter is also equipped with a weather system which tells the pilot where to spray in order to hit the mosquito hot zones. Officials say aerial spraying is thousands of times more effective than trying to spray from a truck.

Depending on weather conditions, aerial spraying over Bay County is expected to last through this week

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