The mosquito is widely regarded as the greatest public health threat to mankind. Over a dozen different species of mosquito are vectors to a number of different pathogens, including Malaria, Dengue, Encephalitis, yellow fever, West Nile Virus, Tularemia, and the Zika virus. In the United States, most efforts to monitor and control mosquito populations are performed by over 700 local units of government called Mosquito Abatement Districts. Most of these operate independently and without significant federal oversight.
The organization of these districts can differ greatly state-to-state. The districts in many states have specific taxes to fund their operations. My home state of Illinois is one such state, which has 22 such districts funded by specific local taxes. The district monitors samples of local waterways, performs laboratory testing for pathogens, and applies larvicide and insecticide when populations reach nuisance levels.
Although many districts are very well funded, in general the fundings of these programs have been under attack by activists and politicians who want to either reduce the scope of government and/or reduce taxes. Total funding for mosquito abatement districts have dropped from $24M in 2004 to $10M in 2012. Deprived of funds, such districts become deprived of expertise to function efficiently and to be able to rapidly mobilize to potential outbreaks of disease 1.
Even though most of the worst pathogens are in control in The United States, recent outbreaks of West Nile and the possible arrival Zika virus illustrated that these local districts may be too poorly funded to prevent outbreaks from occurring. Moreover, these districts do not belong to a larger funded or managed federal system, which would include the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.