Information About Community Spraying

John J. Flanagan

June 05, 2013

            Suffolk County Department of Health Services

Suffolk County Division of Public Health Mosquito Spraying Information 

New York State Department of Health

Fight the Bite Pamphlet from the New York State Department of Health

United States Centers for Disease Control

Suffolk County Department of Health Services



Although your chances of experiencing any health effects from spraying are quite low, the New York State Department of Health recommends the following common sense steps to help you reduce possible exposure to pesticides before during or after spraying:

*Children and pregnant women should take care to avoid exposure when practical

*If possible, remain inside or avoid the area whenever spraying takes place and for about 30 minutes after spraying

*Close windows and doors and turn off window air-conditioning units or close their vents to circulate indoor air before spraying begins. Windows and air-conditioning vents can be reopened about 30 minutes after spraying

*If you come in direct contact with pesticide spray, protect your eyes. If you get pesticide spray in your eyes, immediately rinse them with water. Wash exposed skin. Wash clothes that come in direct contact with spray separately from other laundry

*Consult your health care provider if you think you are experiencing health effects from spraying

*If spraying just occurred, minimize your contact with outdoor surfaces and wash skin that has come in contact with these surfaces

*Pick homegrown fruits and vegetables you expect to eat soon before spraying takes place

*Rinse homegrown fruits and vegetables (in fact all produce) thoroughly with water before cooking or eating

*Cover outdoor tables and play equipment before spraying or wash them off with detergent and water after they have been sprayed

*Bring laundry and small toys inside before spraying begins (wash with detergent and water if exposed to pesticides during spraying)

*Bring pet food and water dishes inside, and cover ornamental fishponds to avoid direct exposure



Facts About the West Nile Virus

What is West Nile Virus?
It is a mosquito-borne virus that causes flu-like symptoms in most cases, but in rare cases, can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or even meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). Less than 1% of those with the West Nile Virus will develop serious illness.

How does the West Nile Virus spread?
West Nile Virus (WNV) is spread when infected mosquitoes bite people, animals and birds, particularly American crows. However, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus to humans or even to other animals.

Can you contract the West Nile Virus from another person?
No. You cannot get WNV from touching or kissing a person who has the disease, nor can you get the virus from handling live or dead infected birds. But you should always avoid bare-handed contact with dead animals.

What are the symptoms of the West Nile Virus?
Most infections are mild, and symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches, often with skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Symptoms appear usually 5 to 15 days after you have been bitten by an infected mosquito.

West Nile encephalitis may be marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Up to 15% of encephalitis cases may result in death.

Are pregnant women especially at risk?
There is no documented evidence that a pregnancy is at risk due to infection with West Nile Virus.

What should a person do if he/she thinks they have the West Nile Virus?
Seek medical care as soon as possible.

How is the West Nile Virus treated?
There is no specific therapy. In more severe cases, hospitalization is required to prevent secondary infections such as pneumonia.

Is there a vaccine?

Who is at risk?
Everyone is at risk once virus activity has been identified in an area, but those over the age of 50 or those with suppressed immune systems face a higher risk of illness.

Prevention is the best medicine
County and state departments of health have taken many steps to monitor and minimize WNV. The key to prevention is controlling mosquitoes. The West Nile Virus Response Plan calls on New Yorkers to continue educating themselves about ways to reduce mosquito breeding sites, to protect themselves from mosquito bites and to report sightings of dead birds.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites
When the virus is detected in your community, you can reduce your chances of becoming ill by preventing mosquito bites.
You and your family should:
-stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening-
-wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when going outdoors-
-apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin; an effective repellent will contain 20% to 30% DEET-
***insect repellents should not be applied to very young children***
-spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET, as mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing-

Whenever you use an insecticide or insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
Note: Vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites.

Report dead birds
Dead birds, especially crows, could be a sign that mosquitoes carrying WNV are in your neighborhood. If you would like to report a dead bird, you may call your local health department.

Reduce the mosquito population
Certain communities are spraying pesticides or placing larvicide "dunks" in standing water to reduce mosquitoes and their breeding grounds.

The Suffolk County Bureau of Preventative Services- in conjunction with the Department of Public Works,is responsible for controlling mosquito infestations that are of public health importance. Click on the link for information about upcoming spraying.

Tips to help reduce the mosquito population on your property:
-Eliminate standing water.
-Remove used tires from yards and vacant lots. Tires are the No. 1 breeding area for mosquitoes.
-Look for and dispose of discarded soda cans, plastic containers and ceramic pots that can retain water and form breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
-Clean clogged rain gutters.
-Drain water from pool covers.
-Turn over baby pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
-Drill holes in the bottom of recycling or garbage cans that are left outside to allow water to escape.