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Changes proposed for San Antonio mosquito control division

Metro Health proposal part of cost savings in new San Antonio city budget

SAN ANTONIO - Changes have been proposed for the employees in the Metro Health division responsible for spraying for mosquitoes and the West Nile virus across San Antonio.

Aerial spraying in Dallas and ground-based spraying in San Antonio is underway.

But Becky Valdez worries that proposed changes in mosquito control could put San Antonio in danger and increase the spread of the West Nile virus.

"There's only five guys, one supervisor and four guys out there for the whole city of San Antonio. They have over 102 years experience," Valdez said.

Her husband is one of those men and she said the city is proposing to eliminate those Metro Health positions and transfer the workers.

"They let them know two weeks ago that their jobs are in jeopardy, that it's on the chopping block," Valdez said.

But Metro Health said that division is not being eliminated.

Metro Health officials said two or three of the five jobs will be moved to other positions in the city. The remaining jobs will then work with Metro Health sanitarians who are cross-trained.

"The city manager's proposed budget has some efficiencies in it,” said Dr. Vincent Nathan, the assistant director for the Metro Health division. “And one of those efficiencies is to reduce the vector control operations."

Nathan said in the busy summer months other Metro Health employees will help with mosquitoes.

"We do have some cross-trained sanitarians that are licensed to be pesticide applicators," Nathan said.

He said Dallas had a perfect storm of rain, warm temperatures and mosquito breeding. San Antonio, even with a reconfigured mosquito control group, would be just as poised as it is now to handle any problem.

The proposal would have to be approved by the city council when it approves the budget next month and would go into effect in October.

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