State offers advice on West Nile preparations to small communities

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 3, 2003

GLOSTER &045; With mosquito season approaching, state health officials are offering advice to small towns who are preparing to battle mosquito populations in hopes of reducing the threat of West Nile virus.

Since the chemicals and equipment needed to spray for mosquitoes can be costly, a four-step community approach to protection from West Nile virus is needed, according to State Public Health Veterinarian Brigid Elchos.

&uot;Everyone in the community should begin with personal protection.

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Wear repellant and protective clothing, and try not to go outside during peak biting times,&uot; Elchos said.

Eliminating sources of standing water for mosquitoes to breed in is the next step.

&uot;Three of the four life cycles of the mosquito require standing water.

If you eliminate those sources, you reduce the chance of transmission,&uot; said Elchos, who urges communities to sponsor spring clean-up days.

&uot;Most of the people who got sick last year probably got infected near their homes.

Everyone should clean up standing water sources on their own property,&uot; Elchos said.

&uot;There is money available through the Department of Environmental Quality for towns to host amnesty days, where people can bring in things like white goods and old tires to a central location for the DEQ to haul away,&uot; she said.

Larvicide treatment should be used next in the control plan to kill mosquito larvae before they hatch.

&uot;Larvicide is more economical and effective than adulticiding, but you have to start early,&uot; said Elchos, adding that spraying for the adult mosquitoes is the final step in the community treatment process.

&uot;The best mosquito control program has all of these elements,&uot; said Elchos, who urges small towns to use their resources wisely. &uot;If there are no mosquitoes present, then don’t spray.&uot;

In Gloster, officials plan to begin eradication efforts this month. &uot;We plan to start spraying about mid-April. We already checked our supplies and equipment,&uot; said Gloster Mayor Bill Adams.

Spraying will resume along city streets two or three times per week, and larvicide tablets will be used to kill mosquito eggs in standing water, Adams said.