West Nile Virus Prevention Efforts Outlined
Efforts at prevention of West Nile Virus in Queens by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) are under way. Larviciding at standing water sites began in June and will take place again from July 9 through 11. A third larviciding is scheduled for August 7 through 9.
Last year, larvicides were applied at 63 sites in Long Island City and 803 in Flushing. “Standing water is breeding ground for mosquitoes,” DOHMH Director of Vector Surveillance and Control Waheed I. Bajwa Ph.D said at the June 12 meeting of the Queens Borough Cabinet. “Call 311 to report standing water in your neighborhood,” he said. “We respond to each and every complaint.”
West Nile Virus was detected from July 14 through September 16 in the borough last summer and Queens registered 697 complaints of standing water to DOHMH, 257 of which resulted in violations. There were 11 cases of West Nile Virus reported citywide last year, four in Queens. Larvicides are chemicals or natural bacteria used to kill mosquito larvae.
Bajwa noted a majority of standing water sites are actually found on private property, with many of the most common places located closer than one might think. DOHMH asks residents to take a good look around their homes as well.
“Where are mosquitoes?” Bajwa asked. “They are breeding in your back yard.”
Standing water in baskets, flowerpots, saucers, ponds and swimming pools are among the top mosquito breeders, Bajwa said. To reduce mosquitoes around homes, DOHMH recommends the following:
• Remove all discarded tires from your property.
• Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other water-holding containers.
• Make sure roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the spring or fall.
• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. When they are not in use, keep them empty and covered.
• Drain water from pool covers.
• Change the water in bird baths at least every three or four days.
• Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
• Remind or help neighbors to eliminate sites where mosquitoes breed.
• Use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
“Our mission is control and detection of West Nile Virus to prevent transmission to humans,” Bajwa said. “Successful mosquito management is not possible without community cooperation.”