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Department of Health “Enhances Mosquito Surveillance and Control Program”

by Prince Of Petworth April 6, 2016 at 11:00 am 15 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user quemac

From a press release:

“The District of Columbia (DC) Department of Health (DOH) announces the 2016 Enhanced Mosquito Surveillance and Control Plan for trapping and testing adult mosquitoes in all eight wards in the District. Trapping will begin on April 4, 2016, and continue through the summer and fall through the first frost; this expands the surveillance period to start two months earlier than previous years. Trapped mosquitoes will be tested by the Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) for the following viruses that can be transmitted by mosquitos: Zika, West Nile, Dengue, and Chikungunya. Currently, there have been three confirmed cases in the District related to international travel. There have been no confirmed locally acquired cases.

“These program enhancements are critical to ensure that we are protecting the public health and safety of District residents. The increased surveillance time will also allow us to readily identify when local transmission of the Zika virus could occur in the District and to get a more comprehensive picture of how the Zika virus could impact our jurisdiction,” said DOH Director, Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt. “As always, we are strongly encouraging residents to eliminate water filled spaces in which mosquitoes breed, such as old car tires, lawn figurines, poorly draining rain gutters, discarded cans and saucers under plant pots.”

To reduce mosquito populations throughout the District, DOH will place insecticides that target the juvenile larval-stage of mosquitoes (larvicides) in areas of standing water and catch basins. Targeting larvae in these areas will kill mosquitoes before they develop into adults and can bite humans.

“Our Public Health Lab proactively established the capability to test for Zika in anticipation of DOH’s need to determine if the disease is in the region,” said DFS Director, Dr. Jenifer Smith. “Last year we only tested for the presence of West Nile, this year we are expanding our testing to include Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika as well.”

DOH will hold two community outreach engagements on Saturday, May 14, 2016 and Saturday, July 16, 2016 in all eight wards, to provide educational materials and mosquito protection kits to DC residents. These events will inform DC residents on the proper use of insecticides, how to reduce mosquito breeding sites in the community, and preventative measures individuals can take to protect themselves.

Residents can minimize their risk of mosquito bites in a number of ways. When outdoors, wear clothes that cover arms and legs and use insect repellents. When indoors, ensure that windows have screens and doors are secured.”

  • Anomalous

    If you have a neighbor with a poorly-graded backyard, where there is usually a lot of standing water for days after it rains, what is the best approach to take? She is elderly, and can’t do much at this point. Should I notify the city about this, and if so, who?

    • U neighbor

      Google “Mosquito Donut”. They are organic, and you can put them in stubborn puddles or ponds, and they kill mosquito larvae. Get a 20-pack for $20 on amazon, and after it rains, break one up and chuck the pieces in all the puddles.

      • Anomalous

        Thanks, I’ve already got these, along with the granules. Apparently it works better if you use both. I have some trepidations about tossing these things in a neighbor’s back yard. However, there are little kids living on the other side of her house, so I will go ahead with a volley if the city doesn’t do anything. I was just hoping there was something more legitimate that i could do.

        • jcm

          Why would you call the city? Knock on her door, say “Hi Ms. x, I noticed you’ve got some standing water in the backyard, I’ve been using these organic mosquito dunks and they really seem to work. Mind if I throw a few in the puddles in your backyard? We got eaten alive last summer.”

  • glad but

    I’m glad the city is starting to address this. However, it seems they should focus not just on how to prevent bites, but also on spraying and most of all broader outreach on how to prevent mosquito breeding grounds (i.e., get rid of any open container–a bird bath, watering can or flower pot in rain, clogged gutter, even overturned bottle caps). Wearing long sleeves/pants and DEET only goes so far if your block is full of lots of standing sources of water. All the information on zika says that preventing mosquito breeding grounds is the most important step to preventing zika and that it needs to start in the spring (now) rather than wait until summer when mosquito populations are at their height (too late to respond).

    • textdoc

      Agreed. I’m glad the D.C. government is doing _something_… but I wonder how much good it will do when so many people don’t get their gutters cleaned.

      • Anomalous

        To say nothing of the broken water main coming out of the alley behind 5th Street onto Ingraham. It has been slowly trickling water into puddles since it broke during the big snowstorm. It was patched during the storm (a valiant effort) but has never actually stopped leaking.

  • Also

    I looked directly at the city’s mosquito plan and thought this was interesting. They’re doing more than I would’ve expected.

    “District residents will have the opportunity to acquire larvicidal dunks from 16 Point(s) of Distribution (POD)/District recreation centers for application in their own properties and neighborhoods. Residents will also have the opportunity to report high numbers of mosquitoes or standing water in their neighborhood to the DOH Animal Disease Control Division by calling the dedicated hotline at (202) 442-5833 or emailing [email protected].”

  • There are two varieties of mosquito to worry about, and their breeding habits differ, thus requiring different control methods. The mosquito known for transmitting zika, dengue, and other noxious tropical diseases, is the Aedes aegypti. Its close relative, also capable of disease transmission, is the Aedes albopictus. That’s the “Asian Tiger” mosquito that is such a nuisance around here. It’s a “container” mosquito, breeding in dry-wall containers, not ponds or puddles. The eggs are laid on the wall of the container, then hatch when rainfall raises the water level in the container to the height of the eggs.

    Best control method is inexpensive traps, placed in all of our back yards. They’re designed specifically to capture container mosquitoes. See http://www.luckyvitamin.com/p-264652-springstar-oak-stump-farms-mosquito-and-flying-insect-trap-1-trap and http://globalbiodefense.com/2014/06/10/army-ovitrap-helps-prevent-mosquito-borne-disease/

    Mosquitoes have short lifetime travel distances, so these traps can be very effective for mosquito control in your own area. We residents can do this — we don’t need the city to do it for us.


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