Curbing Mosquito Population Cuts Risk of West Nile Virus
Starting on Monday, June 11, the Allegheny County Health Department will treat storm water catch basins in selected areas of Pittsburgh with pesticides to combat the breeding of mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile virus.
West Nile has already been detected in the County this year. Four mosquito samples collected last month have tested positive, three in Pittsburgh’s East End and one in Penn Hills. These are the County’s earliest positive samples of the season since mosquito trapping and testing began over ten years ago.
“Any catch basin that holds water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes during the heat of summer and treatment with pesticides can keep mosquito larvae from emerging into full-fledged adults capable of spreading disease to humans,” said Interim Health Director Dr. Ronald E. Voorhees.
The pesticides, which are non-toxic to people, pets and aquatic life, inhibit mosquito breeding and are deposited manually in catch basins. Treated basins are marked with a bright green chalk.
Health Department staff will treat about 10,000 catch basins in certain areas of Pittsburgh, including eastern and western wards as well as wards on the North Side and South Side, which have a history in previous years of West Nile activity.
The treatments will continue daily until all the catch basins are treated and will take place weekdays from 4 to 9 p.m., but may be postponed when heavy rains are forecast.
Health officials say residents can also help reduce the mosquito population by eliminating and treating breeding sites on their own private property. Inexpensive but effective pesticides similar to what the Health Department uses are available at hardware stores and home improvement centers.
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