SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Some residents in San Diego’s South Park neighborhood say they are fed up with the county spraying pesticide every time there's a Zika scare.
On Tuesday night, San Diego County health officials fielded questions from roughly a dozen angry neighbors during a meeting outside the Big Kitchen restaurant.
Selena Isela was moved to tears as she described seeing crews spraying near her home. She says she wasn't notified of the spraying ahead of time. Many residents say they'd like the county to notify them by phone; similar to an Amber Alert. The county has been putting fliers on people's doors.
"Seeing men in yellow suits a block away from my house and I'm supposed to go to work?” Isela said. “You didn't need to do that to me.”
Isela said she doesn't like the idea of pesticides anywhere near her baby.
"Every time we go to the doctor they ask me, ‘where do we keep the chemicals?’ Make sure they're locked up, make sure they're away from babies. But you're going to spray them?"
Vector Control crews have sprayed pesticide in four neighborhoods over the last month. The spraying occurs every time an overseas traveler returns with Zika symptoms and the type of mosquito that can carry the virus, the Aedes mosquito, was found near the patient's home. Thirty-six people in the county have been diagnosed with Zika. There have been no locally acquired cases.
County health officials say the pesticide, which contains chemicals synthesized from chrysanthemums, is EPA approved and dissipates after 30 minutes.
"They are trying to beautify it (the pesticide) and make it sound pretty, like it comes from Chrysanthemums, but that couldn't be farther from the case," said one man.
Brad Michels says he told county crews he didn't want them spraying his yard in Mount Hope. He says they returned with police and threatened to have him arrested.
"They're doing this under the guise of public health,” Michels said. “Right now they are saying they are trying to protect the public, but there has not been a single solitary mosquito that has this virus."
County leaders announced they have new system in place that allows them to find out in 24 hours if a person is infected. They say that will help prevent unnecessary spraying; which turned out to be the case in South Park after the resident who had symptoms tested negative for any mosquito borne illness.
Attendees at the meeting said they were happy to have their concerns heard, but are still upset with the county's strategy. They plan to hold another meeting in two weeks.