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If West Nile virus is detected in the city limits, the Environmental Health's Mosquito Controls initial response will be to intensify its efforts to reduce mosquito breeding sites and increase its levels of larviciding in those areas in which West Nile virus has been found. Reducing the adult mosquito population with pesticides (adulticide) approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be done if necessary to prevent human illness or to suppress a heavy nuisance infestation of mosquitos.
The decision to spray, by truck mounted sprayers, will be based on surveillance information or the documentation of West Nile virus activity at a level that indicates a threat to human health. Spraying will be concentrated in areas most at risk for disease occurrence and will be conducted by certified and licensed applicators. The program's aggressive campaign against mosquito larvae is intended to minimize the need to use adulticide.
When necessary, we will use the ground application of pesticides to kill mosquitos that pose a low health risk to the residents of Abilene and our environment. In the case of an adulticide, only targeting adult mosquitos, we would use botanical insecticides (plant-derived compounds) or synthetic versions of, which include pyrethrins and synthetic pyrethroids, as well as piperonyl butoxide. In an emergency situation, we may use malathion or sumithrin.
All of the products we use are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and applied according to label directions by our trained and certified technicians. Mosquito adulticides are applied as ultra-low volume (ULV) sprays. ULV applications involve small quantities of the active ingredients in relation to the size of the area treated, typically less than 2 ounces per acre, which minimizes exposure and risk to people and the environment.
The spraying will take place in areas of concern, as determined by our mosquito and disease surveillance programs. Our trained and certified technicians use a variety of surveillance techniques and treatment criteria to ensure effective mosquito control with the least amount of risk to our residents and our environment. Typically there will be a ½ mile radius sprayed from where the West Nile Virus and mosquito pool is located.
There are several factors that go into a determination by Environmental Health to use an adulticide to control mosquitos, they are:
Generally, there is no need to relocate during mosquito control spraying. The pesticides have been evaluated for this use and found to pose minimal risks to human health and the environment when used according to label directions. Although mosquito control pesticides pose low risks, some people may prefer to avoid or further minimize exposure. Some common-sense steps to help reduce possible exposure to pesticides include:
Since the spray dissipates in a few minutes, it is not necessary to wash off outdoor furniture or playground equipment before use.