Yes, it’s that time again: time for mosquito spraying and time to keep ourselves protected from mosquito bites. Our community is a great place to live, but we do need to be diligent about mosquito protection. We all know the basics, but as Vice Chair of the County Legislature’s Health Committee, one of my accountabilities is to keep you fully apprised of county efforts to minimize our exposure to mosquitoes and of current preventatives against mosquito bites.
There are two separate concerns: West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). West Nile Virus typically appears in early to late July, whereas EEE is usually detected in mid-August. The county maintains 22 mosquito traps to test for WNV and EEE, approximately four of which are located right here in Cicero: Island Road and Taft Road, and along Ley Creek and Oneida Shores. So far this year, more than 185,000 mosquitoes have been trapped and one of the pools on East Taft Road tested positive for EEE, prompting the aerial spraying that took place on July 22.
The County takes a proactive approach to tackling this issue and is on track to test more pools of mosquitoes for infectious disease than ever before. Also, new technology is being introduced to help in this issue, such as the use of DRB (Dark Resting Box) testing, which is part of the testing on Island Road in Cicero.
Despite the county’s efforts, being protected from bites and knowing current status of testing are major concerns on a personal level. An excellent source for this and other information is on the County’s website, www.ongov.net/health/mosquitoborne.html . There is a host of information there, including weekly reports to let people know the amount of mosquitoes present when tested. There are also tips for minimizing mosquito bites, such as getting rid of standing water around your home; making sure windows and doors have screens; and wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, shoes, and socks when you are outside at dusk or dawn. It is also important to use EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin, or IR3535.
A comment I hear frequently from residents is a request to spray more frequently. However, there is a rigorous process and a cost for each spraying. To perform an aerial spray for mosquito-borne diseases, the County must obtain the approval of the State Department of Environmental Conservation, when, and only when, there is a presence of EEE in those mosquitoes tested. Spraying for West Nile is not done because it is ineffective. In the past, an aerial spray typically cost the county $62,000. To reduce this cost, the County opted to solicit bids for the aerial spraying of approximately 12,000 acres around the Cicero Wildlife Management area. This reduced the cost to approximately $32,000, almost half of the previous cost. The benefit will be further monies available for additional spraying.
Is your home a breeding ground for mosquitoes? If so, the County provides a service to spread larvicide at your home, an insecticide that is commonly used against mosquitoes during their larval life stage. You can contact the Mosquito Control office at 435-1649 if you have any questions or to report a concern.
To repeat one of my opening comments, our community is a great place to live, but let’s all take mosquitoes seriously. Enjoy your summer. My family and I are and I wish the same to you.
My thanks to Lisa Letteney, Director of Environmental Health Assessment within the County’s Health Department, for information she provided regarding the ongoing efforts to monitor, control and contain mosquitoes in Onondaga County. Her information was vital in producing this report to you.