Dr. Gullible and Operation Skeeter Stop
Situation: During 2016, reports about the Zika virus and associated health risks dominated the news throughout the nation, especially in Florida. In response, Hernando County Extension agents participated in the statewide “UF/IFAS 2016 Zika Challenge” program to provide Floridians with current and scientifically accurate information concerning this public issue. Methods: Agents trained 112 volunteers and created five educational videos on topics of mosquito-borne illnesses, breeding source reduction, and proper repellent methods. Videos aired on Hernando County Broadcasting (potential 83,000 reached) and YouTube (116 engagements). A promotional contest (309 participants) promoted two videos as a way to engage residents who would not attend traditional classes. Through partnerships, agents carried out an insect repellent drive to raise awareness and supply the County’s homeless population with repellent. Results: A follow-up survey of contest participants (N=112) indicated: 45% now use UF recommended insect repellents, 68% eliminate standing water on property, and 39% now share UF/IFAS information about insect repellents and breeding source reduction. The repellent drive supplied 44% (N=728) of the County’s homeless population with UF recommended insect repellents. Conclusion: This effort demonstrates Extension’s ability to be proactive as well as have significant impact on individual and community behavior change. It also highlights how hybrid educational methodology and delivery methods can be applied to successfully address emerging issues in our State and communities.