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Local non-profit helps the homeless fight Zika

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SARASOTA, Fla.-- Each Saturday morning volunteers from the Garden of Eden Project, a local non-profit, head out on a mission, distributing water and even fresh fruits and veggies to the homeless.  In Florida's heat, it's a hot commodity, but in a close second place, is a non-toxic bug repellent called Mosquito Paq.

"It was amazing to see how excited people were about it," said Ryan Blass of the Garden of Eden Project. "It's like gold. People are like 'do you have the mosquito stuff?'"

For the homeless, braving the elements is a daily battle, and one without much relief.

"The worst thing about it is at night, because you can't hardly cover up with a blanket when it's 80 degrees," said James Carnell who was formerly homeless. "At night the mosquitoes eat you alive."

More than a nuisance though, mosquitoes are potentially a health risk to the homeless, who largely sleep outside and are particularly vulnerable to the Zika Virus."

"These people are out sometimes 24 hours a day sleeping out at night and  the virus can move through an environment like that fairly quickly," said Dr. John Harlin of the company who created Mosquito Paq. 

Right now, the Centers for Disease Control reports more than 800 cases of the Zika virus in Florida, and the group hopes to keep the local homeless from becoming one of those statistics.

"If we can keep the bugs off of folks for a 24 hour period that's a really big deal," said Blass, "because that's a big increase in the level of comfort."