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“Any District Plans for Mosquito Control Given the Zika Virus”

by Prince Of Petworth March 16, 2016 at 1:00 pm 27 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user quemac

“Dear PoPville,

I was wondering if you’ve heard from others how they felt about the Zika threat to DC this spring and summer – I am newly pregnant, worried and sent the below messages to Bowser’s office – no response though as of yet. Maybe there are others in similar boats who could also request the DC government take mosquito control seriously this year?”

Dear Mayor Bowser,

Following up on my previous e-mail, I wanted to state that there is not only suspicion that the local Asian Tiger mosquitoes spread Zika, but there is already proof that they do: see here and here, for example.

Thus there is a huge urgency to act – please let me know what the concrete measures are that will be taken to avoid Zika transmission in DC.

  • jonah

    There was a meeting at the Fourth District Police Station last night about this. Based on the last line about what the city is doing there likely is some sort of initiatives. However I did not attend and do not know more. This is what the meeting announcement said:

    “Ronald King, Community Relations Specialist with the Department of Health, will be the speaker at the meeting on Zika, Tuesday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room of MPD’s Fourth District Police Station.

    This is a public meeting with the Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B.

    In addition to learning about Zika, we will find out how to limit the mosquito population as warmer weather approaches, what the city is doing in that regard, and what other diseases do mosquitoes carry.”

  • ANC

    I haven’t heard anything, but I’m just writing to say I’m sorry you’re having to worry about this. Pregnancy is hard enough (especially in summer) and it will be a long mosquito season.

  • dat

    I would like to see DC offer free mosquito spraying (on request) for residents and treatment of public areas.

  • Lexicon

    I am also pregnant (due in August) and am trying to be reasonable about this, but it is hard. It would be nice to know if DC is even thinking about this as an issue.

    • ANC

      This is purely speculative, but Zika probably doesn’t cause microcephaly in otherwise healthy fetuses. That’s not to say it wouldn’t cause other complications, but looking at the CDC’s guidelines for pregnant women, they’re recommending women get tested in the first trimester and again in the fifth month. So once those cranial structures are formed, they’re probably not going to change so drastically if mom became infected.

      Still, I understand being freaked out by this.

      • textdoc

        What evidence do you have for your assertion that “Zika probably doesn’t cause microcephaly in otherwise healthy fetuses”?

      • katinka

        That’s wrong. Very very wrong. The CDC says they have very little understanding of Zika links to Microcephaly and are essentially advising against pregnancy for 2yrs after having Zika.

  • Shawshanked

    look into Permethrin spray – you can treat most fabrics with it. i think that is how you spell it. I used it when i was traveling through africa and never even saw a mosquitoe near me. no matter what the city does there will be mosquitoes so it’s best to find a way to keep them off of you. Even without the threat of Zika they are annoying as hell but between regular skin spray and treated clothes you will keep most of them away.

  • nust

    While you are at it — you should write about the possibility of controlling an ebola pandemic. You are posing a question about a statical 0% chance of contracting a virus. Here are the stats if you are capable of ingesting logic based information:


    As you can see 0 cases have ever occurred in the USA. You have as much to worry about as aliens coming and abducting you.

    • K

      Wow that comment was needlessly snarky. But the referenced link was interesting to read.

      • anon

        Perhaps, but I had the exact same reaction – do we even have zika in the U.S.??? It appears that, as I thought, we do not.
        It seems your best protection when pregnant is to not travel to countries that have it.

      • Why you gotta be so rude?

        @ nust
        Breaking news: A pregnant woman is concerned about her unborn child! That’s never happened before! She must be crazy! I bet she’s afraid of aliens! (major eye rolls)

        I’m not the OP or a pregnant woman, but I don’t need to be either of those things to have some sympathy.

        Your facts are wrong anyway – Puerto Rico IS the US, according to the US gov’t. If you’re going to be needlessly snarky, at least be accurate.

        • katinka


    • TBD

      Nust, you do realize your source shows reported cases of Zika virus in the US to-date, it says nothing about the projected spread of the virus. One year ago Brazil had zero reported cases. Zero cases now indicates nothing about future epidemiological patterns.

      • anon


      • textdoc


      • nust

        sure. lets all fear the future of a near 0 probability for a mosquito that barely lives in our area. I understand where you are coming from, but still — if you spent your life worrying about being the first one to get a virus or (actually) abducted by aliens then you wouldn’t have a life worth living — and would probably stay locked inside all day.

        I might come off as snarky, and I am, but questions like this are generally due to the uninformed public relying on media hype which enrages me to no end.

    • anon
  • dat

    For reference — bug spray with DEET is considered safe for pregnant women. Off! Deep Woods has a higher concentration of DEET and has proven, at least for us, very effective.

  • Timmy

    I get your concern (just returned from FL with my pregnant wife), but you not only need the Aedes mosquitoes to get Zika, you need the virus. Aedes mosquitoes are not common in this area of the country (or world), and the virus is practically non existent. My understanding is that you’d need an Aedes to snack on someone with Zika, then bite you in order for you to get it. The possibility of that happening in DC is so, so remote. Use a deet based bug spray and try to avoid mosquitoes, but don’t kill yourself worrying about this.

  • TBD

    According to this article, some Aedes aegypti mosquitos have been found in DC that seem to have bred and survived the winter. http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/02/health/zika-mosquito-aedes-aegypti-map-colder-climates/

    Quotes from the article:

    “Marcus Williams, a spokesman for the Washington Department of Health said measures are being looked at to include testing for the Zika virus in mosquitoes.” (“Washington Dept. of Health”? hopefully the rest of the article had better fact checking )

    “Severson said his study is yet more evidence of how resilient these mosquitoes are; but even so, he said he doesn’t think the bugs Lima found will likely spread Zika in a significant way.”

    There is still so much scientists don’t know about the virus, including whether it can even be transmitted in normal environmental conditions by a mosquito in higher latitude areas. Understandably, it’s hard not to worry when we lack information. DC and other local governments need to be proactive about this.

  • Anonemuss

    DC was built upon reclaimed marshlands and tidal plains. Good luck controlling the the mosquitoes – they come with the territory. I doubt amount of sprays/treatments would eliminate them. Get some DEET.

  • The Asian Tiger mosquito — Aedes albopictus — can and does spread the Zika virus, and there are plenty of those mosquitoes here in DC. All that’s needed is for someone to return from a visit to Central or South America with the virus. Long odds, of course, but yes, we could see the Zika virus here.

    Control of Aedes mosquitoes is largely up to us. They’re “container” mosquitoes, the eggs laid on the dry walls of a cup-like container, hatched when rainwater fills the container with water. Classic spraying methods, aimed at Culex mosquitoes, are not effective. We residents have to take care to empty out anything that can be a breeding container after any rain. Dishes under flowerpots, for example, are perfect for breeding container mosquitoes.

  • katinka

    This isn’t as long of odds as everyone is saying- a similar spread of infected cases to Chikungunya or Dengue is anticipated. Worrying about local on-continent cases is perfectly reasonable.

    In Florida, places like Key West do extensive sprays against mosquitos, as do areas in Texas previously effected by West Nile.

    If DC wanted to do something, they could.

  • Sara

    Have you tried reaching out to the health department?

  • Anon
    • Timmy

      Here’s a key part of this article:
      “For the disease to spread in New York, the mosquito would have to be able to gain a foothold from the weather and then be able to bite hosts that had Zika, Mr. Monaghan said. The insect’s entire life cycle lasts eight to 10 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      “Typically they are not born with the virus,” Mr. Monaghan said. “They have to bite someone with the virus.”

      Given the number of people who travel to and from New York, there is a chance both conditions could be met, he said, though he rates the odds of a large outbreak to be low.”

      Again, I get the concern (my wife is pregnant), but the odds of an outbreak in DC are really low.


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