Overkill: Why Pesticide Spraying for West Nile Virus May Cause More Harm Than Good Principal Authors William C. Sugg, III, Director, Maine Environmental Policy Institute Kim DeFeo, Connecticut Field Director, Toxics Action Center This report is available free of charge online at www.toxicsaction.org. To receive additional copies of this report, send $10 per report, or $7 each
if ordering more than ten copies to:
A Report by:
Toxics Action Center and
Maine Environmental Policy Institute
Why Pesticide Spraying for West Nile Virus May Cause More Harm Than Good
William C. Sugg, III, Director, Maine Environmental Policy Institute
Kim DeFeo, Connecticut Field Director, Toxics Action Center
This report is available free of charge online at www.toxicsaction.org.
To receive additional copies of this report, send $10 per report, or $7 each if ordering more than ten copies to:
Toxics Action Center
198 Park Rd.
West Hartford, CT 06119
Published August 2001
The most important person to acknowledge in this paper is Rachel Carson. Her book Silent Spring is the wellspring from which this continuing work on pesticides flows. Forty years ago she wrote,
"We should no longer accept the counsel of those who tell us that we must fill our world with poisonous chemicals; we should look about and see what other course is open to us."
- Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962.
For the first edition of this report, which was written specifically for Maine (see Maine version of the report), we would like to thank the MEEPI board of directors: Kevin Mattson, Tom Federle, Matt Scease, and Susie O'Keefe for their support and suggestions for this report. The reviewers of this report gave much helpful guidance and advice: Heather Spalding, Rob Baldwin, Mitchel Cohen, Sharon Tisher, RusselI Libby, Kathleen McGee, George Appell, Paul Donahue, Mitch Lansky, Will Everitt, and especially Kim DeFeo. I would like to give special thanks to George and Laura Appell and Elizabeth Spalding. Without their advice and generosity this report would not have been possible.
For the second edition of the report, we would like to thank Rachel Zegerius for her Massachusetts specific research and writing. We would also like to thank Dr. David Ozonoff, Sue Phelan, Stephen Seymour, Ellie Goldberg, Sarah Little, Monica Garlick, and Aimee Qui for their input and review of the report.
For the third edition of the report, we would like to thank Melissa Mylchreest for the Connecticut specific research and writing. We would also like to thank Rivka Lieber for her invaluable input.
This report is based on work previously published in many different places. Some groups and resources stand out as being particularly valuable to anyone researching this issue, and to us in particular as sources of information, quotations, references, inspiration, and guidance: The No Spray Coalition of New York; Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides; Pesticide Action Network of North America; Extension Toxicology Network; Environmental Risk Analysis Program (ERAP) of Cornell University Center for the Environment; and Rachel Massey and Peter Montague of the Environmental Research Foundation.
While current state and municipal officials have held off on spraying so far this year and have exhibited more reluctance in using pesticides to address West Nile virus in 2001 than in previous years, policies that allow for the spraying of toxic pesticides to combat the West Nile virus (WNv) are both dangerous and ineffective. Spraying toxic pesticides to combat WNv, may cause more harm than good, exposing the population to a new public health threat through exposure to toxic chemicals. In fact, spraying may even have the paradoxical effect of increasing the mosquito population by affecting its predators. State and local officials should strengthen their "no-spray" policies to ensure that public health is not further jeopardized by pesticides.
Pesticides are Dangerous and Threaten Public Health
The toxic pesticides proposed for spraying are harmful to human health, wildlife, and ecosystems. Children and the elderly are most susceptible to the effects of toxic pesticides. In both laboratory studies and occupational settings, the pesticides used for WNv mosquito control in Connecticut have been known to cause short- and long-term respiratory problems, immune and nervous system disruption, cancer, and reproductive and learning disorders.
The Spraying for Pesticides Has Not Been Proven Effective
Adulticiding, or spraying to kill adult mosquitoes, has not been proven effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that ground and aerial spraying is usually the least effective mosquito control technique.12 Ground spraying in cities is problematic as urban landscapes make it difficult for thorough application of the pesticide.
Spraying May Cause More Harm than Good
In addition to exposing the public to toxic pesticides, spraying leaves communities with a false sense of security making them less likely to use effective, non-toxic control measures. Long-term spraying may actually increase the number of mosquitoes by destroying predators that feed on mosquito larvae and adults. Additionally, mosquitoes that are sprayed, but not killed, by the pesticides may become resistant, live longer, become more aggressive biters, and have increased prevalence of WNv within their bodies.
While the effects of West Nile virus on people can be serious, it is far from what some have called a "deadly epidemic". Seven people in New York City contracted West Nile virus in the year 2000 and eventually died. By comparison, 2,000 New York residents died from influenza in 2000.
Promoting Safer Alternatives
The good news is that Connecticut has the opportunity to strengthen its WNv prevention program that will ensure that people, ecosystems, and wildlife are not harmed by toxic chemicals. Monitoring and surveillance for the virus, combined with on the ground educational efforts aimed at minimizing breeding and biting opportunities for mosquitoes are needed. This approach may reduce the rate of WNv infections in Connecticut to levels arguably better than a spray program could achieve.
West Nile Virus in the Northeastern United States:
An IntroductionWest Nile virus (WNv) is a disease new to the Western Hemisphere. It appeared in New York City in 1999 and has since spread to animal populations in eleven states, including the District of Colombia, from New Hampshire to North Carolina. Many municipal officials have responded to the disease by spraying entire neighborhoods, fields, and water bodies with pesticides intended to kill mosquitoes that transmit the virus. See maps of human and avian cases of WNv on pages 38 and 39.
Transmitted primarily by bird biting mosquitoes, WNv can also infect humans and other animals. See the transmission cycle of West Nile virus, and life cycle of the mosquito on pages 40 and 41. Most human infections of WNv go unnoticed or elicit ordinary flu-like symptoms. Some cases lead to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord) and can be fatal. The elderly and individuals with compromised immune systems may be particularly vulnerable to serious illness resulting from the virus.64
A New York City Health Department survey of blood samples taken from people who lived in northern Queens, the epicenter of the 1999 outbreak, showed that 19 out of 677 tested positive for the virus. None of the 19 became seriously ill, and all either reported no symptoms or mild illness, such as a low-grade fever. 77
In 2000, WNv reappeared in New York City, and infected birds were found in upstate New York as well as New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Maryland. So far this year in Connecticut, 196 birds have been tested for the virus, three of which have tested positive for WNv. The three infected birds were found in Milford, Stamford, and Wethersfield. Two infected mosquitoes have been found, one in Stamford and one in Stratford, on July 19th and July 25th, respectively.17b For weekly updates on surveillance reports and State Laboratory testing results visit the Connecticut Department of Public Health website at: http://dep.state.ct.us/mosquito/index.asp or call the 24-hour (toll-free in Connecticut) recorded Mosquito Information Line at (866) WNV-LINE (866-968-5463).
Connecticut Prepares for West Nile Virus Mosquito Control
Response to WNv involves input and regulation from a variety of governmental agencies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, are responsible for the development and modification of federal surveillance and response tactics, to be used as guidelines by individual states. To view the federal plan visit: http://www.cdc.gov/.
Last year, before WNv had been discovered in Connecticut, the state began a prevention-based larviciding program to reduce the number of mosquitoes. The state allocated funds in the amount of $500,000 to the larvicide project. Of the money allotted, $425,000 was divided amongst 45 communities across the state. In the different municipalities, the money was either given to the DEP for the bulk purchase of larvicide, or as a grant to defray the cost of local larviciding. The remaining $75,000 was reserved for emergency situations. The larviciding began in mid-May, after the weather had warmed up enough to allow the product to be effective. In mid-July, after one Connecticut mosquito tested positive for WNv, the state began to implement their pesticide spraying plans. On July 25, 2000, the State of Connecticut DEP began ground level low-volume spraying of the adulticide Scourge in sections of Stamford, Darien, and New Canaan. They sprayed again in Danbury, Bethel, and Milford on September 20, 2000.
During the trapping and surveillance season (May 16th –November 7th, 2000) in Connecticut, seven horses, fourteen mosquitoes (from three pools, one in Stamford and two in Norwalk), and 1,105 birds tested positive for WNv. Birds were found in 109 communities, in all eight counties across the state.
The CDC's revised guidelines for 2001 are less aggressive than last year when it comes to broadcast spraying of adulticides. The guidelines now state, "Control activity should be initiated in response to evidence of virus transmission [to humans], as deemed necessary by local health departments."12
The CDC receives weekly updates from towns, detailing significant information about WNv.
The CDC guidelines for surveillance, prevention, and control of WNv for 2000 stated: "Adult mosquitoes should be chemically controlled within approximately a 2-mile radius around the area where a WNv positive dead bird or infected mosquitoes are found."13a
As to the recommended spray radius, the revised guidelines leave it up to local officials. " There is no simple formula for determining how large an area to treat around a positive surveillance indicator or a suspected or confirmed human case of WN virus. Nor is there adequate information to determine the degree of vector population suppression that must be attained, or for how long this suppression must be maintained to reduce risk of disease."12
Connecticut’s West Nile Virus (WNV) Surveillance and Response Plan was developed by an interagency state working group led by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Department of Public Health (DPH), the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), the Department of Agriculture (DoAg), the University of Connecticut Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science (UConn), and the Connecticut Association of Directors of Health also participated in this planning process. The West Nile Virus Surveillance and Response Plan has four key parts:
The WNv Surveillance and Response Plan is an offshoot of Connecticut’s Mosquito Management Program, which was created in 1997 by Public Act 97-289, "An Act Concerning Mosquito Control and Aerial Application of Pesticides." The Mosquito Management Program, coordinated by the DEP, is based on an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, which includes a combination of surveillance, education, source reduction, larval and adult mosquito control and personal protection measures.
Surveillance is at the core of Connecticut’s West Nile virus Response Plan and includes surveillance for WNv in mosquitoes, wild birds, domestic animals and poultry, and humans. The goal of such surveillance activities are to:
The state of Connecticut has developed specific strategies for each of the areas under surveillance:
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) has established a network of mosquito traps throughout the state. This network will provide critical information needed to asses the potential threat of human infection with WNv,
and will also help the state track mosquito species composition and abundance
in a community, seasonal and spatial distribution of mosquito vectors, and WNv infection rates in mosquitoes. CAES currently has 72 traps, and proposes adding another 19 statewide. New stations will be located in communities where six or more birds have tested positive for WNv or a horse was confirmed to have WNv infection, or where WNv-positive mosquitoes were found in 2000 and no existing trapping station is currently established. Mosquito trapping will be conducted daily from June 1 through the end of October.
Surveillance will include collecting reports of dead bird sightings of wild bird species, and the testing of selected species specifically for the presence of WNv. From May through October, local departments of health are requested to locally publicize the system and to compile and send weekly reports of sightings of dead birds in their jurisdiction to the DPH. Because crows are particularly susceptible to WNv, crow deaths serve as an early indicator of WNv activity.
Because so little is known about how WNv will affect the domestic animal and poultry populations, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published joint guidelines emphasizing the national need for laboratory-based surveillance for neurological conditions in domestic animals and birds, with emphasis on horses. This surveillance provides another means to detect the presence of WNv and asses the risk of WNv infection to the human population. The Department of Agriculture will investigate all cases involving domestic animals, poultry, and pet birds with suspicious neurological disease reported to the State Veterinarian and/or presented for necropsy and testing to the Connecticut Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at UCONN.
The surveillance for disease in humans caused by WNv is coordinated by the DPH. When WNv infection causes severe illness requiring hospitalization, it usually manifests itself as encephalitis or meningitis. The DPH will review all cases of encephalitis reported by health care providers and hospitals. During the peak human risk period for WNv (July-September), the DPH will contact acute care hospitals, in all areas of the state with WNv activity, to more actively identify patients diagnosed with encephalitis. Because of the current importance of WNv, physicians and other health care providers are requested to report immediately by telephone any patient with a presumed diagnoses of viral encephalitis any time from April through September. Cases of viral encephalitis should be reported to the patient’s local health department and to the DPH Epidemiology Program at (860) 509-7994. Testing for WNv is not provided at the State Laboratory for persons suspected of having WNv infection on the basis of mild illness, such as fever or headache, and recent mosquito bites. Levels of WNv activity in the community would have to be very high for such symptoms to be likely due to WNv infection. In addition, as persons with mild illness will most likely recover completely, testing is not necessary for prognostication.17b
Click here for Connecticut’s complete WNv Response Plan
Pesticides Used for WNv Mosquito Control in Connecticut
Three main chemicals were used against mosquitoes in response to West Nile virus last year in the state of Connecticut.
Other chemicals under review for use in killing adult mosquitoes in New England include two organophosphates; malathion and naled, and two other synthetic pyrethroids; permethrin (Ambush, Pounce) and sumithrin (Anvil).
To kill larvae, some New England states are considering the use of temephos (Abate), another organophosphate, and Bacillus sphaericus, another natural-occurring bacteria. A soapy oil called Agnique MMF (100% Poly (Oxy-1, 2-Ethanedilyl), Alpha-Isooctyl Decyl-Omega-Hydroxy) may be applied as a film to water surfaces in order to suffocate larvae in other New England states.61
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the nation’s primary pesticide control law, classifies pesticide ingredients into two categories – active and inert. The active ingredients are those which are designed to kill pests while the inerts are added to make the active ingredient more potent and easier to use. Inert ingredients can make up a significant percentage of the material that is actually sprayed. Yet these inerts, which are often highly toxic, are often classified as "trade secrets" under law and are not listed on the label. The true nature and health threat of the pesticide are difficult to analyze.
Last year the synthetic pyrethroid resmethrin (Scourge) was used by many municipalities to control adult mosquito populations. It consists of the active ingredient resmethrin, and the inerts, piperonyl butoxide and petroleum distillates. The inerts do not kill the insects, but increase the potency of the resmethrin.
Other New England states are considering the use of two other synthetic pyrethroids, permethrin (Ambush, Pounce) and sumithrin (Anvil). Pyrethrins are natural insecticides produced by certain species of the chrysanthemum plant. The natural pyrethrins are contact poisons that quickly penetrate the nerve system of the insect. A few minutes after application, the insect cannot move or fly away. But, a "knockdown dose" does not equal an exterminating dose. The natural pyrethrins are swiftly detoxified by enzymes in the insect. Thus, some pests will recover. To delay the enzyme action so a lethal dose is assured, organophosphates, carbamates, or synergists may be added to the pyrethrins (see inerts section). The inert in Scourge, piperonyl butoxide, has been shown to cause liver tumors in rats and mice,16 and is also classified as a "possible human carcinogen."
Semisynthetic derivatives of the chrysanthemumic acids have been developed as insecticides. In general, the term "pyrethrins" refers to the natural insecticides derived from chrysanthemum flowers; "pyrethroids" are the synthetic chemicals, and "pyrethrum" is a general name covering both compounds.29
Synthetic pyrethroid compounds vary in their toxicity, as do the natural pyrethrins. Inhaling high levels of pyrethrum may bring about asthmatic breathing, sneezing, nasal stuffiness, headache, nausea, incoordination, tremors, convulsions, facial flushing and swelling, and burning and itching sensations. The most severe poisonings have been reported in infants.85 Pyrethrin is extremely toxic to aquatic life, such as bluegill and lake trout, while it is slightly toxic to bird species, such as mallards. Toxicity increases with higher water temperatures and acidity.24 The EPA is scheduled to re-evaluate the health effects of the pyrethroids in 2002.64
A report in the New York Daily News (9/9/00) tells of a woman who was sprayed directly on the street in Manhattan with Anvil (sumithrin) and ended up in the emergency room after experiencing blurry vision, nausea, itching, coughing, choking and a swollen tongue. "I threw up three days in a row, I really thought I was going to die," said the unidentified woman. In the story, a New York City Health Department spokesperson says this incident was one of 200 complaints from people who called the city's pesticide hotline stating the spraying had made them sick.7
Pyrethroid insecticide poisoning can be of unexpectedly long duration. Pyrethroids can produce reflex hyperexcitability and fine tremor, salivation, hyperexcitability, choreoathetosis (involuntary movements), and seizures. Local effects are also seen: skin contamination producing numbness and tingling, and ingestion producing gastrointestinal irritation.95
The Cornell University Program on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors in New York State lists over 125 journal studies on the health effects of pyrethroids on their web site.19
Links between pyrethroids and hormonal disruption 83a
Several studies indicate that pyrethroids disrupt the endocrine system by mimicking the effects of the hormone estrogen, which can cause breast cancer in women and lowered sperm counts in men. A Mount Sinai School of Medicine study examined four pyrethroid pesticides, including sumithrin. It concludes, "Overall, our studies imply that each pyrethroid compound is unique in its ability to influence several cellular pathways. These findings suggest that pyrethroids should be considered to be hormone disruptors, and their potential to affect endocrine function in humans and wildlife should be investigated."38
A study at the Roger Williams General Hospital of Brown University on pyrethroids concludes, "Chronic exposure of humans or animals to pesticides containing these compounds may result in disturbances in endocrine effects."23
A Cambridge University report issued in June 2000 by the Royal Society in England called for international cooperation to deal with the dangers posed by endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including pyrethroids, and recommends reducing human exposure to these chemicals.4a
Links between pyrethroids and childhood brain cancers
A report of pesticides and childhood brain cancers published in Environmental Health Perspectives revealed a strong relationship between brain cancers and pyrethroids used to kill fleas and ticks. The study concludes, "The specific chemicals associated with children's brain cancers were pyrethrins and pyrethroids (which are synthetic pyrethrins, such as permethrin, tetramethrin, allethrin, resmethrin and fenvalerate) and chlorpyrifos."91
Links between pyrethroids and neurological damage
A study conducted by the Physiological Institute at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, found that although "a majority of complaints following an acute pyrethroid intoxication disappeared after the end of exposure," several effects were still seen in patients after more than two years. Among these long-term symptoms were " 1) cerebro-organic disorders (reduced intellectual performance with 20%-30% reduction of endurance during mental work, personality disorder), visual disturbances, dysacousia, tinnitus; 2) sensomotor-polyneuropathy, most frequently in the lower legs; 3) vegetative nervous disorders," including increased heat-sensitivity and reduced exercise tolerance due to circulatory disorder." The study concludes, "many of these patients exhibit pathological autoimmune diagnostical findings and developed autoimmune diseases."59
A study conducted by the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Uppsala University in Sweden studying mice found that "low-dose exposure" to pyrethroids "resulted in irreversible changes in adult brain function in the mouse" when exposed during the growth period. This occurred at levels of exposure less than what was found to affect adult mice. The study also found "neonatal exposure to a low dose of a neurotoxic agent can lead to an increased susceptibility in adults to an agent having a similar neurotoxic action, resulting in additional behavioral disturbances and learning disabilities."27
Northwestern University Medical School conducted a series of investigations at Northwestern's Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry in Chicago, and has found neurological damage from pyrethroids. One study, conducted by international expert Toshio Narahashi, finds nervous-system damage from pyrethroids to be comparable to DDT. This study found that "Detailed voltage clamp and patch clamp analyses have revealed that pyrethroids and DDT modify the sodium channel to remain open for an extended period of time." The results of this damage are "potent effects on the nervous system."74
A separate study found that pyrethroids cause "membrane depolarization, repetitive discharges and synaptic disturbances leading to hyperexcitatory symptoms of poisoning in animals." This study found that only 1% "of sodium channel population is required to be modified by pyrethroids to produce severe hyperexcitatory symptoms."75
Links between pyrethroids and thyroid damage
A pesticide study conducted on rats concludes, "Exposure to organochlorine, organophosphorus, and pyrethroid insecticides for a relatively short time can suppress thyroid secretory activity in young adult rats." The study also said a decrease in body weight seen "suggests that pyrethroid insecticides can inhibit growth rate."2 "We tested four frequently encountered pyrethroids, fenvalerate, sumithrin, d-trans allethrin, and permethrin, for estrogen and progesterone agonist/antagonist activities. Through these hormonal pathways, exposure to certain pyrethroids may contribute to reproductive dysfunction, developmental impairment, and cancer."36
The larvicide methoprene (Altosid) used in municipalities across Connecticut in 2000, is considered to be a slightly to practically nontoxic compound in EPA human toxicity ratings, which do not include adequate testing for hormone disrupting potential. However, its effects on wildlife and ecosystems -- especially lobsters -- could prove devastating. The compound is dumped into water bodies like sewers, wetlands, ditches, and ponds for the purpose of killing mosquito larvae. Use of methoprene is particularly alarming, because it is being characterized as a harmless measure of controlling mosquitoes, especially in communities that have shown resistance to being sprayed.
Methoprene is a compound that mimics the action of an insect growth regulation hormone. It is used as an insecticide because
it interferes with the normal maturation process. In a normal
life cycle, an insect goes from egg to larva, to pupa, and eventually to adult (see mosquito life cycle on page 41). Methoprene artificially stunts the insects' development, making
it impossible for insects to mature to the adult stages, and thus preventing them from reproducing. To be effective, it is essential that this growth inhibitor be administered at the proper stage of the target pest's life cycle. Methoprene is not toxic to the pupal or adult stages. Treated larvae will pupate but adults do not hatch from the pupal stage.28
Methoprene is slightly toxic to birds.51,124 Non-lethal effects that may affect survival of the birds did appear at acute oral doses of 500 mg/kg. These effects appeared as soon as 2 hours after treatment and persisted for up to 2 days and included slowness, reluctance to move, sitting, withdrawal, and incoordination.47 These effects may decrease bird survival by making them temporarily more susceptible to predation or by affecting reproductive and parenting behaviors.
Methoprene is slightly to moderately toxic to fish.117 Methoprene residues may have a slight potential for bioconcentration in bluegill sunfish and crayfish.118 Methoprene is very highly toxic to some species of freshwater, estuarine, and marine invertebrates.28,28a
Studies at the laboratory of researcher Charles McKenney have shown that methoprene, an insect JHA (juvenile hormone analogue) used in mosquito control, inhibits the metamorphic success of larval estuarine shrimp (Palaemonetes pugio) and crabs (Rhithropanopeus harrisii) with exposure to concentrations which proved lethal to insect pests, including salt marsh mosquitoes. Differential survival and developmental rates of larval shrimp and crabs indicate that certain larval stages are more sensitive to exposure than others.67
Methoprene is believed to have a significant impact on lobsters. Research into the toxic effects of methoprene and other mosquito control chemicals on lobsters is ongoing. The Lobster Institute at the University of Maine is working on such research projects, but have not yet completed or published their study results.104 A $125 million putative class action lawsuit has been filed in New York by lobstermen against insecticide manufacturers for allegedly wiping out the lobster fishery.107
Hans Laufer, a University of Connecticut professor emeritus, who has studied reproductive hormones in crustaceans for 20 years, has questioned the use of a larvicide that interferes with a mosquito's ability to molt. "In mosquitoes, it (methoprene) acts as an anti- hormone, and that's what's killing them,'' Laufer said. "It's doing exactly the same thing to lobsters, exactly the same."21
Birth defects, frogs and methoprene
Use of methoprene is also a significant concern due to the effects of the retinoids that are formed when the compound breaks down after exposure to sunlight. Retinoids, a class of chemicals closely related to vitamin A, can cause birth defects in humans and may be contributing to the global epidemic of skeletal deformities in frogs.64 Dr. David Gardiner, a research biologist at the University of California at Irvine, has been studying retinoids for at least a decade, and in recent years he has probed frog deformities. To him, retinoids are the obvious culprit in the mystery of the misshapen frogs because of the peculiar kind of limb deformities being observed. "There is no other known mechanism for this [besides retinoids]," Gardiner says. "Much of early development is controlled by retinoids," he says. "Our body [and the body of a frog] is completely dependent on them".60,72
Exposure to retinoids could also make frogs more susceptible to infectious diseases, Gardiner says: "The kinds of chemicals that would target development of limbs would target all organ systems," including the immune system. Frogs with abnormal legs would also very likely have abnormal immune systems. This could explain why some frogs are now suddenly falling victim to infectious agents that they resisted for millions of years.
Peter Montague, of the Environmental Research Foundation points out: "The pesticide regulators at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have missed a key feature of a chemical (methoprene) whose safety they regulate. It shows once again that relying on risk assessment leads to bad public health decisions. EPA's risk assessments have routinely failed to evaluate the breakdown by-products of the chemical pesticides that the agency has deemed safe enough to allow as residues on our dinner plates. It also means that thousands of pesticides now in common use need to be re-tested to see if their breakdown by- products are dangerous to humans or other species."72
Bacillus thurengiensis israelensis (Bti) and Bacillus sphaericus
BTi is a biological pesticide that contains naturally occurring soil bacteria in different strains that target specific insects. Bti is not known to be toxic to animals, birds, humans, fish or beneficial insects. BTi is required to have EPA warning and caution labels, as is the requirement by law for any registered pesticide. BTi and variants are widely used in organic farming. Some trade names are Aquabac, Teknar, and LarvX. Bacillus sphaericus (VectoLex) is another naturally occurring "biopesticide." It was registered in 1991 for use against mosquito larvae, which ingest the bacteria and die after the toxin in the bacteria disrupts their gut function.
Based on extensive testing, no harmful effects to the public are expected to occur when biopesticide products are applied according to label directions. Because there is the potential for skin and eye irritation, applicators are warned to avoid direct contact with the granules or a concentrated spray mix. Various tests revealed no expected harm to non-target organisms.111
Although these compounds are not used in agriculture, related ones are approved for use in organic farming. It is unwise to broadcast these biopesticides widely. If their use is not limited, there is a chance that insects may develop immunity to these important pesticides, thereby limiting their effectiveness for mosquito control and for use by organic farmers.
More research needs to be done on the ecological effects of biopesticides. What non-target invertebrates that are important in the food chain are also affected by their use? How will a potential decrease in this part of the food chain affect fish and amphibians, and the birds and animals that feed on them?
Malathion is one of the most widely used organophosphate insecticides in the United States and throughout the world. Malathion was sprayed in New York City in 1999, but has not been used in Connecticut to date. Contributing to its popularity is malathion's relatively low acute mammalian toxicity. But like DDT and other pesticides that have been found to cause irreparable
damage to human and environmental health, malathion may pose a greater risk than the product label would lead one to believe.
Shown to be mutagenic, a possible carcinogen, implicated in vision loss, reproductive and learning problems, immune system disruption and other negative health effects in human and animal studies, damaging to non-target organisms, and containing highly toxic impurities, malathion has a legacy of serious problems.84
Organophosphates, in the same chemical class as the nerve gas Sarin, act as neurotoxins, disrupting the nervous system by inhibiting the enzyme cholinesterase. High exposures can produce fatal poisoning.97 In April 2000, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) committee reviewed a series of studies on mice and rats exposed to malathion. Based on this review, the committee concluded that there was "suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity."112 For the moment, malathion remains listed by EPA as "not classifiable" with regard to carcinogenicity.64 Recent evidence suggests that organophosphates such as malathion can cause Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL).123,70
In June of 2001, the Glens Falls Post-Star reported that 37 fourteen and fifteen year-old girls became ill at a softball game after being exposed to malathion, which was being applied to an area adjacent to the field. During a malaria mosquito eradication spray program in Pakistan in 1976, 2,800 people became poisoned from malathion and 5 died.3 Physicians at Travis Air Force Base Medical Center in California have observed seven children with bone marrow disorders over the past 8 years. The physicians believe organophosphate pesticides caused the blood disorders, in all cases. All blood disorders occurred shortly after exposure to the pesticides DDVP/propoxur and malathion.96
In laboratory animals, malathion exposure has caused stomach ulcers, testicular atrophy, chronic kidney disease,98 increased liver and kidney weights, adverse gastrointestinal tract effects,9 and changes in the adrenal glands, liver, and blood sugar levels.43,4 Use of malathion by farmers in Iowa and Minnesota has recently been linked to an increased risk of one type of NHL.10 Juvenile male rats exposed to daily doses of malathion had decreased numbers of sperm forming cells.53,54 In sheep, malathion exposure of pregnant ewes resulted in an increase in aborted fetuses, stillbirths, and low birth weight babies. Longer duration and earlier initiation of malathion exposure resulted in more severe problems.106
Between 1957 and 1971 Japanese school children experienced a tremendous increase in cases of myopia (nearsightedness), which correlated with the increased use of organophosphate insecticides, including malathion.48 Ninety-eight percent of the children examined from Saku, an agricultural area where malathion was regularly applied, had reduced visual keenness. Other examples of what is now called 'Saku disease' in both children and adults were reported throughout Japan where organophosphate pesticides were applied. In California, a lawsuit is pending on behalf of a 15 year old boy who was declared legally blind after being outside while helicopters were spraying malathion. An ophthalmologist and a pesticide expert both agree that the boy may have Saku disease.56
Eradication programs for pests such as mosquitoes and fruit flies expose thousands of people to malathion applied in aerial applications. This type of pesticide application often provokes complaints of allergic reactions and flu-like symptoms.101,52,93 Impurities and by-products present in malathion can further disrupt immune system function.20,100 Immunosuppression may enhance susceptibility of mammalian systems to bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection or possible increased tumor formation.99,84a
Ironically, use of these pesticides for WNv mosquito control could actually end up suppressing human and avian immune systems in the areas sprayed, putting each species at greater risk than before of spreading, contracting, and becoming seriously ill from WNv. Malathion is lethal to beneficial insects, snails, microcrustaceans, fish, birds, amphibians, and soil microorganisms. Sublethal exposure of these species can cause a variety of behavioral and physiological abnormalities.84
Naled (trade name Dibrom) is an organophosphate with many of the same characteristics and concerns as malathion. To date, Naled has not been used in Connecticut, but is being considered for use in Florida in response to West Nile Virus. Naled can cause cholinesterase inhibition in humans: that is, it can over stimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion, and at high exposures, can cause respiratory paralysis and death. One of the byproducts of degradation of Naled is dichlorvos, another registered organophosphate. This compound is of toxicological concern.115
Researchers at the Cornell University Program on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors in New York State review several studies on dichlorvos. In one study, female mice that were fed high doses of dichlorvos over a long period of time had a higher frequency of stomach cancers than untreated mice. High doses of dichlorvos fed over two years caused an increase in the number of male rats that had pancreatic tumors and leukemia. A higher number of leukemia cases were reported in one study among male farmers who used dichlorvos for more than ten days per year, compared to those who had not used dichlorvos. A higher number of childhood brain cancer cases were reported among families that used dichlorvos than among families that did not.18
The pesticide trichlorfon is a common ingredient in the mosquito pesticide dibrom (naled). In one study, trichlorfon was found to cause a "severe reduction" in brain weight (and shape) in test animals exposed. The timing of exposure to the developing offspring appeared to be the key factor in determining neurological damage (known as the "critical brain growth period"). It occurred when the chemical was administered between 40-50 days gestation for the guinea pig, which scientists say, correlates with the brain growth spurt period for the animal.68 Russian scientists studied the growth rates of fish called Bream (Abramis brama) after exposure to the dibrom/naled contaminant dichlorvos. The first major effect detected was a significant reduction in the growth rates of the fish. Researchers believe it may be due to the subtle neurotoxin actions of the pesticide and its effects upon the areas of the brain involved in feeding or food search mechanisms.40
Naled is characterized as very highly toxic to bees and aquatic invertebrates. It is moderately to highly toxic to fish and slightly toxic to upland game birds and waterfowl.29a There is potential for chronic risk from Naled to estuarine invertebrates.115
Temephos (Abate), not yet used in Connecticut, is a non-systemic organophosphate insecticide used to control mosquito, midge, and black fly larvae. It is used in lakes, ponds, and wetlands. It also may be used to control fleas on dogs and cats and to control lice on humans. The compound may also be found in mixed formulations with other insecticides including trichlorfon. As an organophosphate, it has many of the same concerns and characteristics as malathion and naled.
Symptoms of acute exposure are similar to other organophosphates and may include nausea, salivation, headache, loss of muscle coordination, and difficulty breathing.119 Temephos produces signs and symptoms typical of cholinesterase inhibition at moderate levels of exposure, but mortality does not occur unless very large doses of the compound are administered.33,119 Temephos may greatly increase the observed toxicity of malathion when used in combination with it at very high doses.33 The compound has the potential to cause significant toxic effects (depression of the activity of the enzyme cholinesterase in the blood and the brain) in mammals exposed over long periods of time.
Tests with various wildlife species indicate that the compound is highly toxic to some bird species. The compound is also highly toxic to bees.51,30a Temephos shows a wide range of toxicity to aquatic organisms, including salmon.47 Freshwater aquatic invertebrates such as amphipods are very highly susceptible to temephos, as are some marine invertebrates.50 Temephos is very highly toxic to saltwater species such as the pink shrimp,50 and presumably to lobsters as well. Temephos has the potential to accumulate in aquatic organisms. In one study, the bluegill sunfish accumulated 2300 times the concentration present in the water.119
Agnique MMF (monomolecular film) and Surface Oils
Though Connecticut has used methoprene and BTi to treat mosquito larvae in response to WNv, these compounds may be applied as a film to water surfaces to achieve similar results. Agnique reduces the surface tension of the water and makes it difficult for the larvae and pupae to attach. The film also blocks the breathing tubes of larvae and pupae causing them to drown. Resting males and egg-laying females that come in contact with the film will also drown. Mosquito control begins minutes after application. Laboratory and field testing has shown the film to remain potent for 10 to 14 days on standing water.1 Although there is no evidence that this compound is harmful to human health, it is certainly a significant alteration to an aquatic ecosystem if broadly applied to ponds and wetlands, as it will come into prolonged, intimate contact with invertebrates, fish, birds, frogs, otters, and other ecosystem inhabitants.
Oils, like films, are used to suffocate larvae, pupae, and emerging mosquitoes. They are derived from petroleum distillates and have the trade names Bonide and BVA2. The EPA admits that misapplied surface oils may be toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms.113 More research is needed to determine the effects that Agnique MMF and other surface oil films may have at an ecosystem level.
Other ingredients in pesticide mixtures
There can be numerous "inert" ingredients in pesticides that are added to improve its storage, handling, application, and effectiveness. Many of these compounds are potentially harmful, even more so than the active ingredient in the pesticide. Since the technical (chemically pure) grade of a pyrethroid is usually formulated (mixed with carriers, solvents, synergists, etc.) for use in commercial pest control, the toxicity of these other ingredients must be taken into consideration when assessing the toxicity of a formulated product. Researchers found a ten-fold difference in toxicity between formulations with the same active ingredient, but with different carriers, solvents, etc.73 Some mixtures of Anvil are made up not only of 10% artificially manufactured Sumithrin but 10% piperonyl butoxide (PBO), a suspected carcinogen, and 80% "inert" ingredients such as polyethylbenzene, which is listed by the EPA as being "potentially toxic."82
PBO is added to make the pyrethroids more effective. It acts by inhibiting naturally occurring enzymes that would otherwise degrade the insecticide. PBO breaks through the insect's defense, making the insecticide more powerful. The EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs suspects PBO of being a carcinogen. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances also lists it as a suspected gastrointestinal or liver toxicant, and a suspected neurotoxicant. It has also been reported as a suspected reproductive toxicant.49,,83
There is also some evidence that PBO-pyrethroid mixes can affect the human immune system.22
Polyethylbenzene (PEB), also known as heavy aromatic solvent naphtha (petroleum), is widely used in pesticides. PEB is listed on the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs' Inert Pesticide Ingredients List No 2, which is a list of 64 substances the EPA "believes are potentially toxic and should be assessed for effects of concern. Many of these inert ingredients are structurally similar to chemicals known to be toxic; some have data suggesting a basis for concern about the toxicity of chemical." PEB is related to ethylbenzene, which is listed as a suspected reproductive toxicant and a suspected respiratory toxicant by the EPA. The white mineral oil, also known as hydro treated light paraffinic petroleum distillate, is also listed on the EPA's Inert Pesticide Ingredients List No. 2 of potentially toxic chemicals.83
The threat to agriculture
All of the aforementioned chemicals are designed to kill insects, many of which are responsible for pollinating wild and cultivated plants in Connecticut. The future of agriculture depends on pollinators. Insect pollination is a necessary step in the production of most fruits and vegetables we eat and in the regeneration of many forage crops utilized by livestock. Connecticut’s growers of apples, cherries, blueberries, cucumbers, pumpkins, and many other crops depend on insect pollinators -- both managed and wild -- to produce fertile seeds and full-bodied fruit. Recent surveys document that more than thirty genera of animals -- consisting of hundreds of species of floral visitors -- are required to pollinate the 100 or so crops that feed the world. Domestic honey bees service only 15% of these crops, while at least 80% are pollinated by wild bees and other wildlife.47a Organic crops are also at risk, should the state chose the method of aerial or ground spraying of pesticides. It is unlikely that sprayed farms will lose their certified status, but sprayed crops and plant material may not be able to be marketed as 'organically produced'. 51a
Pesticides Risk Assessments: An Inexact Science
There are some consistent themes and results that arise from any governmental agency review, approval and subsequent environmental application of pesticides. When chemical company scientists come up with the latest pesticide, the evaluation process used to determine its 'safety' often does not take into account how the compound actually behaves in nature. Factors like synergistic effects with other chemicals, even those that the active ingredient is mixed with -- so called 'inerts' -- are not thoroughly evaluated.
The toxic effect on humans, particularly at risk populations like the elderly, children, and pregnant and nursing mothers, is not thoroughly examined. Studies of the long-term subtle effects on endocrine systems, behavior, intelligence, cancer, etc., are either not done or are inadequate. The chemical manufacturer usually does the testing and supplies the data. Rarely taken into consideration are effects on animals and ecosystems. For example, how will frogs, fish, birds, otters, etc., be affected if all arthropods -- so important in the food chain -- are wiped out from the pond they live in or near?
The chemical company then uses public relations and lobbying efforts to gain agency and public approval for the new pesticide. The compound is released into the environment and the unintended consequences begin. Sprayed broadly over fields, in neighborhoods, in wetlands, from planes and trucks, or dumped into sewers and bodies of water, its effects are seen in unpredicted and insidious ways. People become sick, others develop multiple chemical sensitivity disorder, some die. Lobsters, birds, bees and butterflies are found sick, dead, or exhibiting bizarre behaviors.
It can be years before a dangerous compound, once approved and even mandated for use by the government, is banned or certain uses of it restricted. Consider the examples of lead in paint and gasoline, DDT in pesticides, DES and thalidomide for pregnant women. On June 8, 2000 the EPA announced a ban on virtually all uses of Dursban (chlorpyrifos) in residential and commercial buildings. Diazinon, one of the most widely used pesticides in the United States, will be phased out of home and garden use by 2004 because of health concerns. Nearly 100 pesticides have been banned or severely restricted by the EPA since their introduction.110
The 'risk assessment' models used by the state to evaluate the chemicals, although they enjoy widespread use in the regulatory community, are inadequate in determining whether the introduction of these compounds into the environment will adversely affect humans, wildlife, and entire ecosystems.
As Peter Montague of the Environmental Research Foundation points out in his criticism of risk assessment, "Current policies such as risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis give the benefit of the doubt to new products and technologies, which may later prove harmful. And when damage occurs, victims and their advocates have the nearly-impossible task of proving that a particular product or activity was responsible."71 In order to protect public health and the environment, our standard should be equivalent to that of the FDA's, where a product is considered harmful until it is proven safe.
"Comparative risk assessment (CRA) is chiefly a means for increasing the political power of 'experts' and reducing the political power of the general public. The experts will decide what is important and what is safe, and will be allowed to impose their views on the public. But CRA is not an objective, scientific enterprise; it is distinctly a political process. CRA 'experts' have no more legitimate claim to authority or power than anyone else in society. Using CRA will inevitably lead to new environmental injustices, as the voices of the public are excluded from the debate, and the 'experts' -- many of them the same people who created major environmental problems we now face -- make more bad decisions in a political vacuum."69
Montague puts forth a model based on the Precautionary Principle,71 which says in summary:
1. People have a duty to take anticipatory action to prevent harm.
2. The burden of proof of harmlessness of a new technology, process, activity, or chemical lies with the proponents, not with the general public.
3. Before using a new technology, process, or chemical, or starting a new activity, people have an obligation to examine "a full range of alternatives" including the alternative of doing nothing.
4. Decisions applying the precautionary principle must be "open, informed, and democratic" and "must include affected parties."
The Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle states: "When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically."103a
The most common argument that activists will come across when pointing out the real dangers of pesticides and their use for mosquito control will be the dose. The officials and applicators will assure the public that the levels of chemicals they will be exposed to will be so low, and so infrequently applied, that there will be no effect on the environment and human health, and/or that the compound's toxicities quickly degrade. This is not true for two reasons. First, many of these chemicals have significant to subtle negative health and environmental effects at extremely low levels. Secondly, they are never applied as planned. There will always be mistakes, spills, and over sprays. The compounds, although analyzed for safety and degradation characteristics under ideal laboratory conditions, will be applied by real people in the real world.
Pesticides and Methods Used for Mosquito Control in Connecticut are Ineffective
What percentage of the mosquito population in a sprayed area is killed by the pesticide? This question seems the most important, but we face a lack of knowledge regarding the answer. If the efficacy of spraying approaches zero, what's the point of exposing our bodies, ecosystems, and wildlife to toxic chemicals in the first place? "We need to address this, because if we're just spraying all over and not doing a damn bit of good, then this is a waste of time and money, and it's also a hazard," says Dr. David Pimentel, a professor of entomology at Cornell University and a longtime pesticide researcher.31
Most spraying efficacy studies are done under outdoor "lab" type conditions, often with caged mosquitoes placed at measured distances from spraying, at differing pesticide potencies. The tests do not take into account the many variables that are involved in ground spraying. As mosquitoes are mobile, and hide under leaves and in vegetation, extrapolating the efficacy numbers from these studies to actual spraying programs is questionable.
"In order to work, the insecticide must hit the mosquito directly," says Dr. Pimentel. "But since spray trucks are only fogging the street side of buildings, I doubt that more than one-tenth of 1 percent of the poison is actually hitting its target. And you have to put out a lot of material to get that one-tenth of a percent onto the mosquito."31 Other scientists have estimated that less than 0.0001% of ULV (Ultra Low Volume) pesticide sprays actually reach the target insects.89 So for every droplet that reaches a mosquito, hundreds of thousands more droplets circulate pointlessly in the environment.65Months after local governments throughout metropolitan New York began deploying spray trucks and helicopters to fight West Nile, health officials at all levels of government still have released only rough estimates, not specific data, about how effective spraying has been in killing disease-carrying mosquitoes. "We agree that effectiveness is an important question, and we intend to answer it," said Dr. James Miller, West Nile coordinator for the New York City Health Department. Though they haven't released any data, Miller and other New York City officials estimate that in the city, mosquito counts after a spraying are "up to 85 percent" lower than they were beforehand. And Deputy Commissioner Carl Johnson of the state Department of environmental Conservation, which regulates pesticide use around the state, said local governments have anecdotally reported "60 to 80 percent reductions" after spraying.31
Some mosquito-control experts from outside the region, however, are skeptical. "I find it hard to think that they could consistently get 85 percent control spraying in an environment with so many trees and houses and other obstructions," said Judy Hansen, a past president of the American Mosquito Control Association who has run the mosquito-control program in Cape May County, N.J., for 40 years.31 "The people in New York ought to be very cautious about saying they're getting 85 percent control," agreed Ray Parsons, who runs Houston's program and was a consultant to Rockland County this year. Trap experiments in residential areas in Florida, the state with the most extensive mosquito-control experience, generally show a reduction of about 30 percent after a spraying, "and that's also about what we get in Houston," Parsons said.31
The Cambridge, MA WNv Advisory Committee points out that the truck-based pesticide application methods that were used in Massachusetts may prove ineffective for a variety of reasons.9a They point out the following factors that impact the effectiveness of pesticide spraying in urban areas:
The CDC agrees that, "ground applications are prone to skips and patchy coverage in areas where road coverage is not adequate or in which the habitat contains significant barriers to spray dispersal and penetration."12 In a 1998 study, it took 2-3 times more insecticide to kill 90% of the mosquitoes in residential settings versus open areas. Such a high saturation is not permitted under current labeling safety guidelines.37
The Public Health Threat of West Nile virus: Not a "Deadly Epidemic"
It would be unfair to downplay the seriousness of a severe infection of West Nile Encephalitis. A severe infection can prove painfully debilitating, or even fatal. Fortunately, it is extremely unlikely that someone will get sick and die from WNv, even in areas where it is endemic. While determining any one person's risk level is difficult, it is important to point out the range within which uncertainty exists.
West Nile virus was first identified in the United States during the summer of 1999 when a large number of birds were found dead in the New York City area. Out of a population of more than 7 million, 62 people -- or less than .0009% -- became ill with the virus, and 7 died (1 in 1 million). The median age of the people who became ill was 68 years. The seven who died ranged in age from 68 to 87 years of age. Of these seven, one had HIV and 3 were on immunosuppressive drugs for cancer.77 By comparison, more than 2,000 New Yorkers died from the flu in 1999.14
A New York City Health Department survey of blood samples taken from people who lived in northern Queens, the epicenter of the 1999 outbreak, showed that 19 out of 677 tested positive for the virus, but none had become seriously ill, and all either reported no symptoms or mild illness, such as a low-grade fever. The survey concluded that between 1.2 percent to 4.1 percent (between 533 and 1,903 people) of the 46,000 residents in that three-square-mile area had been infected. Of the infected group, four people in the sample had non-specific aches, pains or fever.77
WNv was first identified in Connecticut in 1999, when two infected mosquitoes were discovered in Greenwich. The virus was also found in the brain tissue of many dead crows in the coastal region of the state between Greenwich and Madison. Following these discoveries, 78 people were tested during the remainder of 1999. None of them tested positive. The first case of human infection by the disease was found in Norwalk in October, 2000, when a woman was found to have a very mild case of the disease.17c No severe cases of WNv were diagnosed in Connecticut in 1999 or 2000.
Michael Gochfeld, Professor of Environmental and Community Medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and School of Public Health writes: "In weighing the risks and benefits of mosquito control, we should consider the disease itself and the risk to the human population. The media always paired the words "lethal" or "deadly" with "West Nile" or "encephalitis," reinforcing in the publics mind the danger from the disease. But it would be equally appropriate to characterize West Nile virus infection as "unapparent," "usually asymptomatic," or "occasionally serious." Seven deaths in a population of over 10 million people over a one month period is certainly tragic, but pales beside the number of deaths from many other diseases that are addressed less aggressively.39
The only human epidemic of West Nile virus infection that has been well studied occurred in Romania in the late summer of 1996. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assisted in the evaluation and control of that epidemic and recently published a report in The Lancet, the leading British medical journal.108
In that epidemic an estimated 94,000 people were infected by the virus, of which about 400 developed clinically apparent encephalitis confirmed by virological studies. Fifteen of those people, most over the age of 65, died. In Africa, where West Nile virus has been recognized for more than sixty years and where it is widespread, there have been very few human epidemics. It is important to note, though, that the lack of identifying these epidemics in Africa may be due to the incapacity of the medical infrastructure that exists there. However, West Nile virus infection is characterized by its sporadic outbreak in humans, even in areas where it is endemic in birds. This is likewise true of related infections, such as St. Louis encephalitis and Eastern equine encephalitis, where 30 or more years may pass between human outbreaks. In addition, our actual knowledge of the dynamics of arboviral diseases is deficient, to say the least. We have insufficient evidence to know how to control these diseases or how our control measures may affect them. Knowledge of these numbers is crucial in assessing the risk-risk tradeoffs essential to public health decisions in this area.39
Pesticide Spraying: A Quick, Easy and Lucrative Fix
What's behind the big push by the vast majority of government officials to spray toxic pesticides when the West Nile virus appears? When the public heard of a potentially fatal virus being spread by mosquitoes, they looked to federal, state and local officials for solutions. When West Nile virus came to Connecticut, most government officials were caught off guard and were unprepared. They had not developed a plan on how to effectively address the issue. Pesticide spraying provided a quick and easy solution to a very complicated and multifaceted problem. Thinking they had to "do something", most government officials put their finger firmly on the pesticide trigger, picking the easiest and quickest, but not the safest or most effective response, to address the WNv. These officials could say that they had done "something", even though their solution may have caused more harm than good.
There is also money to be made by spraying pesticides. Pesticide manufacturers and applicators stand to profit from manufacturing and applying sprays for WNv mosquito control. A pesticide applicator in Maine has been reported as saying WNv mosquito control spraying "would be good for business."104 Clarke Environmental Mosquito Management, Inc. was paid $650/hour per truck in a $4.6 million New York City contract.81 The company's bid to spray was in excess of $50 million over three years.42 This bid was rejected by the state, and Clarke was recently fined $1 million for violating New York State's pesticide application laws.7a
In New York, a Long Island landscaping company agreed to pay a fine and cease an advertising campaign falsely claiming that its spraying of homeowners' trees and shrubs would kill mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus. The action against Green Island Tree Spray Inc. of Huntington includes a fine of $35,000 and restitution to customers who hired the company based on its deceptive advertising. "This pesticides applicator cynically preyed upon peoples' fear of the West Nile virus for the sake of increased profit," said New York Attorney General Spitzer. "This action should serve as a warning to others who might contemplate similar schemes."
Pesticide Spraying May Cause More Harm Than Good
Spraying pesticides for mosquito control may be worse than ineffective, it may even make the West Nile virus situation worse. First, spraying can increase mosquito populations by killing off natural predators (fish, other arthropods, birds, etc.) of the mosquitoes and their larvae, thereby removing natural checks on population levels. A 1997 study looked at trends in populations of Culiseta melanura, the mosquito primarily responsible for transmitting eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) among birds. Over a period of eleven years, Cicero Swamp in central New York state was sprayed fifteen times with the insecticide Dibrom (naled). Instead of declining, the population of Culiseta melanura grew fifteen-fold during this period. The study suggests that the pesticides may have altered the ecological balance of the swamp, killing organisms whose presence would ordinarily help limit the mosquito population.46,65
Second, as ecologist Garret Hardin puts it "every biocide selects for its own failure." This means that mosquitoes can and will become resistant to chemical efforts to destroy them. Overuse of pesticides may create resistant super-mosquitoes that require ever increasingly toxic chemicals to kill them.25
Thirdly, toxic chemicals may be leaving mosquitoes that are sprayed but not killed in an immuno-compromised state, thereby allowing them to accumulate and spread more WNv than healthy mosquitoes. "Every time a mosquito spray plane or truck sprays these proven genetically damaging pesticides over the area, they are very likely increasing the amount of subtle genetic damage in the mosquito population, and hence, increasing the number of mosquitoes with genetic flaws which could in theory, allow the encephalitis virus to take hold and grow more rapidly," speculates pesticide researcher Richard Pressinger.92 Walter Tabachnick, director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, disputes this theory: "To my knowledge there is no information that indicates sub-lethal doses influence movement (of WNv within a mosquito's body). This, too, seems unlikely to me to have any major role in mosquito biology and disease epidemiology."104 Clearly, more research is needed on this question.
Dr. Ray Parsons, who heads the Harris County Mosquito Control Division in Houston, has observed that malathion may actually aggravate Culex, causing an increase in aggressive biting behavior for an hour or two after spraying.79
Finally, the public living in sprayed areas may feel a false sense of security. If they feel that fewer WNv mosquitoes are around, they may be less likely to use other proven measures to prevent mosquito breeding on their property and bites to themselves.
Global Climate Change May Increase Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Increasing international trade and travel create new opportunities for exchange of diseases quickly and effectively across regions. Paul Epstein of Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment argues that the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like WNv is also aided by several phenomena associated with climate change, including mild winters, hot summers, and drought.
According to Epstein, back-to-back weather extremes in 1998 and 1999 probably encouraged the proliferation of WNv and the mosquitoes that carry it. In a recent article in Scientific American he writes, "The mild winter of 1998-99 enabled many of the mosquitoes to survive into the spring, which arrived early. Drought in spring and summer concentrated nourishing organic matter in their breeding areas and simultaneously killed off mosquito predators, such as lacewings and ladybugs, which would otherwise have helped limit mosquito populations. Drought would also have led birds to congregate more, as they shared fewer and smaller watering holes, many of which were frequented, naturally, by mosquitoes." Later in the summer, heavy rain created new mosquito breeding opportunities. Higher temperatures also tend to increase mosquito activity. "Computer models indicate that many diseases will surge as the earth's atmosphere heats up, [and that] signs of predicted troubles have begun to appear," he writes in the article. 25a,64
Pesticides Used in Connecticut to Control WNv Could Affect the Lobster Industry
Joseph Finke, a Long Island lobsterman for the past 20 years, recalls the day that death, not lobsters, came crawling out of his mesh wire traps. It was Sept. 20, 1999, four days after Hurricane Floyd dumped more than a foot of rain on Long Island. "Not in my worst nightmare could I ever have imagined that sight," said Finke, remembering the dead, dying or deformed lobsters that clogged his traps.
Many area lobstermen, and a growing number of scientists, believe that the use of pesticides by New York City and Connecticut in 1999 to combat the West Nile virus, along with huge runoffs from Hurricane Floyd, may have combined to trigger the lobster kill. More than 10 million lobsters, or 90% of the stock, are thought to have died in the western part of the Long Island Sound. 102 Nick Crismale, president of the Connecticut Lobstermen's Association, said 150 lobstermen who fished in the western Long Island Sound lost their livelihoods. The remaining 1,150 who fish in the Sound have seen a dramatic reduction in their catch, some as much as 65 percent. 45 Michael Horvath, president of the Western Connecticut Lobstermen’s Association planned to sell his business because of the financial devastation caused by the lobster die-off. The Clinton Administration named the Sound a Commercial Fishery Disaster in January 1999.85a
The pesticides used for mosquito control are designed to kill insects. Both lobsters and insects are arthropods, sharing many life characteristics and a common evolutionary history. They both have chitinous external skeletons and develop and grow from larvae through a series of molts. Although there is clear evidence that lobsters and other aquatic arthropods are susceptible to pyrethroids,8 temephos,90 and methoprene,5,6,15,90,94 many public officials and some scientists have been unwilling to pin the devastation of the Long Island Sound lobster fishery on the 1999 spraying for West Nile virus.
The lobstermen, however, are not holding back. Five lobstermen’s groups (The Long Island Sound Lobstermen's Association, the Western Long Island Sound Lobstermen's Association, The Connecticut Lobstermen's Association, The Western Connecticut Lobstermen's Association and the Westchester Lobstermen's and Dealers Association) joined together in 1999 to demand sample collection and testing.
They lay the blame for the loss of their $45 million fishery firmly on WNv spraying, and have filed a $125 million putative class action lawsuit against insecticide manufacturers,107 including Cheminova Inc. of Wayne, New Jersey, which sold Malathion-based products to New York, Clark Industries of Roselle, Illinois, which sold pyrethroid-containing products to Connecticut, and Wellmark International of Bensenville, Illinois, which produces Altosid.44a
"If it [pyrethroid insecticide] gets into the water, it will kill aquatic life," says pesticide expert Richard Bromilow of Britain's Institute of Arable Crops Research in Rothamsted. Robert Bayer of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine agrees. "There's no smoking gun, but it's very likely insecticides [are the cause]."63 Bayer is currently conducting experiments on the effects of methoprene and other pesticides on lobsters, but he has not yet completed or published study results.104
Hans Laufer, a University of Connecticut professor emeritus, said he became alarmed after listening to lobstermen describe finding egg-bearing lobsters that had molted before their eggs hatched, in effect shedding their eggs along with their shells. Laufer, who has studied reproductive hormones in crustaceans for 20 years, questioned the use of one larvicide that interferes with a mosquito's ability to molt. Insects, Laufer said, are biologically related to lobsters. The larvicide, methoprene, is known to harm small crustaceans, Laufer said. It acts in a similar fashion as nonylphenols, disrupting endocrine hormones and interfering with reproduction. "In mosquitoes, it acts as an anti- hormone, and that's what's killing them," Laufer said. "It's doing exactly the same thing to lobsters, exactly the same."21
Even if the insecticides are not directly killing the lobsters, they triggered the population crash, say other investigators. Richard French of the University of Connecticut and his colleagues found no evidence of bacterial, viral or fungal disease. But they discovered a Paramoeba parasite in the nervous system of all the lobsters studied. "The insecticide probably lowered their immune system, allowing the infection to overwhelm the population," says French. However, he has yet to prove the parasite actually kills the lobsters. The EPA has now launched an investigation into the cause of the lobster crash. Scientists estimate it will take at least 10 years for the population to recover.63
Clearly, more research is needed on the effects that mosquito control pesticides might have on lobsters, particularly sub lethal effects at low levels. If exceedingly low doses, even in the part per billion range, can cause behavioral, reproductive, and immune system impairments, the results for Connecticut’s lobster industry, and indeed the ecology of the marine environment, could be disastrous. It would be irresponsible and shortsighted to introduce these chemicals onto land or water bodies without knowing the effects they might have on lobsters.
Legal Ramifications of WNv Mosquito Control
One very important aspect of WNv mosquito control operations that receives little attention in traditional risk assessment/cost benefit analysis by public agencies is the potential threat of litigation related to the broadcast of toxics. To date there are suits relating to personal injury of pesticide applicators, personal injury to residents, and a class action suit for destruction of the Long Island lobster fishery. Other potential areas of litigation related to toxic mosquito control are: losses to agriculture from the demise of bees and other pollinators; loss of recreational and other commercial fisheries; and loss of organic certification from farms that are over sprayed. Municipalities in Connecticut, state agencies, pesticide applicators and manufacturers need to factor into their decision-making process that they may be sued for millions of dollars if they make the decision to use toxic pesticides to control WNv mosquitoes.
A coalition of environmental groups sought an emergency order to halt the spraying of Anvil, a pesticide that had already been used in Central Park, across Staten Island and in parts of Queens and Brooklyn, in areas where WNv was found in birds and mosquitoes. The environmentalists, represented by the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic at the Pace University School of Law in White Plains, filed a lawsuit contending that the spraying campaign violated environmental laws.88
Five workers who sprayed pesticides for a city contractor last summer to kill mosquitoes carrying WNv have filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, contending that improper training and prolonged exposure to the chemicals made them sick. In an affidavit, the men detailed how they were repeatedly saturated with the pesticide Anvil during their nightly spraying shifts, while driving or riding without protective clothing on the backs of trucks. The former sprayers and truck drivers also said they handled and loaded pesticides without training or supervision, contrary to state and federal regulations. In sworn affidavits and interviews with the New York Daily News, the men said they've been plagued by ailments including fatigue, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, loss of hair, nausea and even sexual dysfunction. The New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, is representing them in making the claim.87
Kent Smith was assigned to one of the company's three all-terrain vehicles and sent to spray Yankee and Shea stadiums and various golf courses and cemeteries. He sometimes worked 16 hours a day, and his skin was constantly drenched with the pesticide, he said. "They only had two respirators in the whole place and wanted us to share them," he said. "I refused and forced them to get me my own respirator. There wasn't even a place to wash up after you finished spraying. Just a fountain where you washed your hands," he said. While the men were paid $11 an hour, the city paid Clarke $650 an hour per truck. After investigating their claims, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the firm for five serious safety violations and fined it $6,750.41
In the biggest suit so far, commercial fishermen who claim the dramatic decrease in their lobster harvest was caused by pesticides used against mosquitoes to combat the West Nile virus filed a $125 million putative class action against the insecticide manufacturers in a federal district court Aug. 25, 2000 (Fox v. Cheminova Inc., E.D.N.Y., filed 8/25/00). The proposed class consists of lobstermen from New York and Connecticut operating in Long Island Sound "who sustained legally recognizable damages as a result of the contamination and death of lobsters ... caused by Defendants' negligence, strict products liability, and other fault," according to the complaint.107
Safe and Effective Ways to Protect Your Family and Community from West Nile virus
When cases of WNv show up in Connecticut, citizens will understandably want government officials to "DO SOMETHING!" to prevent them from being bitten by WNv carrying mosquitoes. A massive spraying campaign runs the risk of giving residents a false sense of security, encouraging them to think they are less likely to be bitten after the spraying, and less likely to implement non-toxic preventative measures.
Government officials, from the town to state and federal level, can make a proactive, effective, and also non-toxic response to WNv. Imagine a van driving through neighborhoods with knowledgeable technicians getting out at every house, doing an inspection for potential mosquito breeding pools, pointing out ineffective screens, showing residents grills, toys, tires, sagging gutters, etc., in their yard that might harbor larvae. Each property could receive a 'report card' and specific instructions on what to do to correct problems. The technicians could also hand out information about WNv, list hotlines and information resources, discuss repellents, biopesticides, and talk about the relative risk that diligent residents have from WNv illness. This sort of approach would be safer, would ensure residents that officials were engaged, and would arguably be cheaper and more effective than spraying.
Community level guidelines for safe and effective mosquito control 65
Some characteristics of Culex mosquitoes: a WNv carrier17
Steps you can take around the house 114,65
DEET should be used with great caution, especially on children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledges fourteen cases in which individuals reported seizures associated with exposure to DEET. Twelve were children, three of whom died.116 DEET can also interact with other chemicals to produce severe toxic effects on the nervous system, and may have played a role in Gulf War Syndrome. Based on existing information about DEET's health effects, EPA determined in September 1998 that the labels on some DEET-containing products were misleading. Under EPA's new requirements, it is illegal to label DEET-containing products as designed for children or "safe for kids." However, EPA chose to allow a grace period of more than four years during which products with old labels can be sold,116 so stores can still sell products with misleading safety claims. Treat clothing, rather than skin, whenever possible, and wash off repellents with soap and water after returning indoors.65
Bite BlockerTM is a plant-based repellent that was released in the United States in 1997. Bite Blocker combines soybean oil, geranium oil, and coconut oil in a formulation that has been available in Europe for several years. Studies conducted at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, showed that this product gave more than 97% protection against Aedes mosquitoes under field conditions, even 3.5 hours after application. During the same period, a 6.65% DEET-based spray afforded 86% protection, and Avon Skin-So-SoftTM citronella-based repellent gave only 40% protection. It is available from Gardens Alive, 5100 Schenley Place, Lawrenceburg, IN 47025.32,35
Citronella repellents and candles are non-toxic and fairly effective
Studies show that citronella can be an effective repellent, but it provides shorter complete protection time than most DEET-based products. Frequent reapplication of the repellent can partially compensate for this.32
Canadian researchers studied, under field conditions, the efficacy of three citronella-based products (lotion, milk and sun block formulations (active ingredients: 10% oil of citronella and 5% terpene of citronella) to protect against biting mosquitoes. All of the repellents "reduced the number of mosquitoes biting by 95% over the 1st and 2nd 30 minutes after application."57
The same group of researchers assessed the efficacy of 3% citronella candles and 5% citronella incense in protecting against mosquito bites under field conditions. "Although significantly fewer bites were received by subjects at positions with citronella candles and incense than at nontreated locations, the overall reduction in bites provided by the citronella candles and incense was only 42.3% and 24.2%, respectively."58
The manufacturer of Natrapel citronella-based insect repellent (Tender Corp., Littleton, New Hampshire) has laboratory data showing that their 10% lotion reduced mosquito bites by 84% during a 4-minute test period.105
Avon Skin-So-Soft TM
This bath oil is more often mentioned for use as an 'unofficial' black fly repellent, and received considerable national media attention several years ago when it was reported to be effective as a mosquito repellent. When tested under laboratory conditions against Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, this product was shown to be only mildly effective with a half-life of 30 minutes.103
Electronic repellents don't work
The CDC and several other sources report that Vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites.
Overview of West Nile virus
Q. Where did West Nile virus come from?
A. West Nile virus has been commonly found in humans and birds and other vertebrates in Africa, Eastern Europe, West Asia, and the Middle East, but until 1999 had not previously been documented in the Western Hemisphere. It is not known from where the U.S. virus originated, but it is most closely related genetically to strains found in the Middle East.
Q. How long has West Nile virus been in the U.S.?
A. It is not known how long it has been in the U.S., but scientists believe the virus has probably been in the eastern U.S. since the early summer of 1999, possibly longer.
Q. How many cases of West Nile encephalitis in humans have occurred in the U.S.?
A. In 1999, 62 cases of severe disease, including 7 deaths, occurred in the New York area. In 2000, 17 cases had been reported through September, including 1 death. In 2001, one case has been reported; a 73 year-old man in Madison County, Florida was reported to have WNv on July 15th. No reliable estimates are available for the number of cases of West Nile encephalitis that occur worldwide.
Q. I understand West Nile virus was found in "overwintering" mosquitoes in the New York City area in early 2000. What does this mean?
A. One of the species of mosquitoes found to carry West Nile virus is the Culex species, which survive through the winter, or "overwinter," in the adult stage. That the virus survived along with the mosquitoes was documented by the widespread transmission during the summer of 2000.
Q. Do the findings indicate that West Nile virus is established in the Western Hemisphere?
A. It is too early to speculate about the permanent establishment of West Nile virus. Continued surveillance will assist in answering this question.
Q. Is the disease seasonal in its occurrence?
A. In the temperate zone of the world (i.e., between latitudes 23.5ˇ and 66.5ˇ north and south), West Nile encephalitis cases occur primarily in the late summer or early fall. In the southern climates where temperatures are milder, West Nile virus can be transmitted year round.
Q. What is West Nile encephalitis?
A. "Encephalitis" means an inflammation of the brain and can be caused by viruses and bacteria, including viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. West Nile encephalitis is an infection of the brain caused by West Nile virus, a flavivirus (a type of virus usually transmitted by arthropods) commonly found in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East. It is closely related to St. Louis encephalitis virus found in the United States.
Q. How do people get West Nile encephalitis?
A. By the bite of mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus. See diagram of Culex life cycle.
Q. What is the basic transmission cycle?
A. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which may circulate the virus in their blood for a few days. Infected mosquitoes can then transmit West Nile virus to humans and animals while biting to take blood. The virus is located in the mosquito's salivary glands. During blood feeding, the virus may be injected into the animal or human, where it may multiply, possibly causing illness.
Q. If I live in an area where birds or mosquitoes with West Nile virus have been reported and a mosquito bites me, am I likely to get sick?
A. No. Even in areas where mosquitoes do carry the virus, very few mosquitoes--much less than 1%--are infected. If the mosquito is infected, less than 1% of people who get bitten and become infected will get severely ill. The chances you will become severely ill from one mosquito bite are extremely small.
Q. Can you get West Nile encephalitis from another person?
A. No. West Nile encephalitis is NOT transmitted from person-to-person. For example, you cannot get West Nile virus from touching or kissing a person who has the disease, or from a health care worker who has treated someone with the disease.
Q. Is a woman's pregnancy at risk if she gets West Nile encephalitis?
A. There is no documented evidence that a pregnancy is at risk due to infection with West Nile virus.
Q. Besides mosquitoes, can you get West Nile virus directly from other insects or ticks?
A. Infected mosquitoes are the primary source for West Nile virus. Although ticks infected with West Nile virus have been found in Asia and Africa, their role in the transmission and maintenance of the virus is uncertain. However, there is no information to suggest that ticks played any role in the cases identified in the United States.
Q. How many types of animals have been found to be infected with West Nile virus?
A. Although the vast majority of infections have been identified in birds, through September 2000 CDC has received reports of WN virus infection in horses, cats, bats, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels, domestic rabbits, and raccoons.
Q. Can you get West Nile virus directly from birds?
A. There is no evidence that a person can get the virus from handling live or dead infected birds. However, persons should avoid barehanded contact when handling any dead animals and use gloves or double plastic bags to place the carcass in a garbage can.
Q. Can I get infected with West Nile virus by caring for an infected horse?
A. West Nile virus is transmitted by infectious mosquitoes. There is no documented evidence of person-to-person or animal-to-person transmission of West Nile virus. Normal veterinary infection control precautions should be followed when caring for a horse suspected to have this or any viral infection.
Q. How does West Nile virus actually cause severe illness and death in humans?
A. Following transmission by an infected mosquito, West Nile virus multiplies in the person's blood system and crosses the blood-brain barrier to reach the brain. The virus interferes with normal central nervous system functioning and causes inflammation of brain tissue.
Q. What proportion of people with severe illness due to West Nile virus die?
A. Among those with severe illness due to West Nile virus, case-fatality rates range from 3% to 15% and are highest among the elderly. Less than 1% of those infected with West Nile virus will develop severe illness. See risk section.
Q. If a person contracts West Nile virus, does that person develop a natural immunity to future infection by the virus?
A. It is assumed that immunity will be lifelong; however, it may wane in later years.
Q. Is there a vaccine available for WNv?
A. No. Currently there is no vaccine for West Nile Virus. Peptide Therapeutics Group announced in August of 2000 that it had been awarded a Fast-Track Small Business Innovative Research grant by the US National Institutes of Health to develop a new vaccine to prevent West Nile virus disease. Dr. Thomas Monath, Vice President Research & Medical Affairs of Peptide, said: "The advantages of ChimeriVax vaccines include their high safety profile, ability to induce protection within a few days after a single dose, and long-lasting immunity without the need for booster doses. A ChimeriVax West Nile vaccine is therefore ideally suited for use in an impending epidemic, where rapid immunization is required."86 It is not known how long it will take to develop a vaccine.
Q. Is there a treatment for WNv?
A. Currently, there's no treatment that will cure the disease. Doctors may recommend remedies to cope with the symptoms of mild cases. Severe cases of West Nile virus may require hospitalization, and treatment may include: Intravenous (IV) fluids; Respiratory support (help with breathing); Precautions to prevent other infections, such as urinary tract infections and pneumonia.120 There may soon be a new treatment for WNv. Doctors at New York Hospital Queens will be testing the drug Intron-A this summer on patients diagnosed with the disease. "Intron-A is a cloned version of interferon, which is a protein in our body that fights viruses and stimulates the immune system," explains Dr. James Rahal, director of the Infectious Disease Section of New York Hospital Queens. Intron-A is already used to treat Hepatitis C, a virus in the same class as West Nile. Lab tests have shown that the drug is effective in wiping out the virus. But not everyone with West Nile will get Intron-A. "We're only going to use it on people who have developed encephalitis," says Rahal.55
Q. Who is at risk for getting West Nile encephalitis?
A. All residents of areas where virus activity has been identified are at some risk of getting West Nile encephalitis; persons older than 50 years or with compromised immune systems have the highest risk of severe disease. See in depth discussion of risk factors.
Q. What are the symptoms of West Nile encephalitis?
A. Most infections are mild, and symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe infection may be marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and, rarely, death.
Q. What is the incubation period in humans (i.e., time from infection to onset of disease symptoms) for West Nile encephalitis?
A. Usually 3 to 15 days.
Q. I think I have symptoms of West Nile virus. What should I do?
A. Contact your health care provider if you have concerns about your health. If you or your family members develop symptoms such as high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, and severe headaches, you should see your doctor immediately.
Q. I am a health care provider in Connecticut and suspect a case of WNv. What should I do?
A. Suspect WNv cases are reportable to the Connecticut Department of Public Health Epidemiology Department at (860) 509-7994.
Q. How do health care providers test for West Nile virus?
A. Your physician will first take a medical history to assess your risk for West Nile virus. People who live in or travel to areas where West Nile virus activity has been identified are at risk of getting West Nile encephalitis; persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease. If you are determined to be at high risk and have symptoms of West Nile encephalitis, your provider will draw a blood sample and send it to a commercial or public health laboratory for confirmation.
Q. Do birds infected with West Nile virus die or become ill?
A. In the 1999 New York area epidemic, there was a large die-off of American crows. Through September 2000, West Nile virus has been identified in at least 70 species of birds found dead in the United States. Most of these birds were identified through reporting of dead birds by the public.
Q. How can I report a sighting of a dead bird(s) in my area?
A. When reporting dead bird sightings, the public needs to contact their local health department and provide them with the following information:
Q. Can West Nile virus cause illness in dogs or cats?
A. There is a published report of West Nile virus isolated from a dog in southern Africa (Botswana) in 1982. West Nile virus has been isolated from several dead cats in 1999 and 2000. A serosurvey of dogs and cats in the epidemic area showed a low infection rate.
Q. Can infected dogs or cats be carriers (i.e., reservoirs) for West Nile virus and transmit the virus to humans?
A. West Nile virus is transmitted by infectious mosquitoes. There is no documented evidence of person-to-person, animal-to-animal, or animal-to-person transmission of West Nile virus. Veterinarians should take normal infection control precautions when caring for an animal suspected to have this or any viral infection.
Q. Can a dog or cat infected with West Nile virus infect other dogs or cats?
A. No. There is no documented evidence that West Nile virus is transmitted from animal to animal.
Q. Should a dog or cat infected with West Nile virus be destroyed? What is the treatment for an animal infected with West Nile virus?
A. No. There is no reason to destroy an animal just because it has been infected with West Nile virus. Full recovery from the infection is likely. Treatment would be supportive and consistent with standard veterinary practices for animals infected with a viral agent.
Prevention of West Nile virus and pesticide injury
Q. What can I do if aerial or truck spraying of pesticides occurs near my house?17
A. 1. Keep windows closed during and immediately after spraying. If possible, also turn off
window air conditioners.
2. Stay inside and keep children and pets inside during spraying and until the next morning after spraying.
3. Bring in or cover portable outdoor furniture, toys, laundry, pet dishes and tools.
4. Cover larger outdoor items such as barbecue grills or sand boxes. Swing sets and items that cannot be covered should be rinsed thoroughly after the spraying.
5. Cover ornamental fish ponds because pesticides are highly toxic to fish.
6. Cover vegetable gardens if you can with plastic sheeting; wash any exposed vegetables before storing, cooking or eating.
7. Remove shoes when entering the home after spraying because pesticides can be tracked indoors and remain toxic for months in synthetic carpet fibers. Pesticides used for mosquitoes are most easily degraded in direct sunlight and are sheltered when inside where they do not degrade quickly.
8. Hose off window screens, door handles and hand railings after spraying occurs to avoid direct contact.
9. If you suffer symptoms such as dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, weakness, blurred vision, breathing difficulties, or irritation of the eyes, nose, lips, mouth or throat, see your doctor immediately, or contact the Connecticut Poison Control Center at 1-800-343-2722.
Mosquito Control by Non-insecticide Methods To reduce the risk of WNV infection, individuals need to take personal
protective measures, and individual homeowners need to help reduce mosquito populations. Mosquito
breeding on residential and commercial properties can be reduced significantly by reducing the amount of
standing water available for mosquito breeding. To prevent standing water, federal, state and local governments must maintain
existing drainage structures on their properties such as sumps, recharge basins, sewage or
wastewater treatment facilities, street catch basins, salt marsh ditches, upland streams, ponds, and pools
(unless law dictates otherwise). Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies to eliminate larval mosquito
breeding sites should be pursued. Privately owned or operated sewer facilities should be maintained in
a similar fashion to eliminate larval mosquito breeding. Municipalities collect and disseminate information on methods to control
mosquito populations in their communities, coordinate mosquito control activities on public property, and
work with state agencies on behalf of residents in their jurisdiction. Regulations relevant to mosquito
control and the powers of local directors of health can be found in the Public Health Code (see Appendix F). Mosquito Control Through the Use of Insecticides Larvicides can be used to control mosquitoes in the aquatic stage before they
become biting adults. This type of control using insecticides generally is the most effective at
controlling mosquitoes and has the least effect on non-target species and the environment. The use of larvicides
may require a permit from the DEP, and the product must be registered for use in Connecticut. Depending
upon the type of product used, or for commercial applications, the applicator must be licensed by the
DEP Pesticide Unit to apply mosquito pesticides. Adulticides can be used to kill adult mosquitoes that may be infected with
WNV. Currently available adulticides may be applied by hand-held, backpack or truck-mounted Ultra Low
Volume (ULV) foggers, or by fixed-wing or rotary aircraft. These materials have advantages and
disadvantages that will influence which material is most appropriate for a given situation, and all must be
applied according to regulations and label directions. In preparation for adulticiding (either ground or aerial application) the
state will obtain the services of an aerial-spray contractor. Contractors will be in place for either ground or
aerial ULV adulticide application by the state. Factors affecting decisions to begin application of adulticide When the decision to adulticide has been made, weather and logistical
conditions may affect the ability of the applicator to effectively control adult mosquito populations. The
following conditions and restrictions apply to adulticide application:
Mosquito Control by Non-insecticide Methods
To reduce the risk of WNV infection, individuals need to take personal protective measures, and
individual homeowners need to help reduce mosquito populations. Mosquito breeding on residential and
commercial properties can be reduced significantly by reducing the amount of standing water available
for mosquito breeding.
To prevent standing water, federal, state and local governments must maintain existing drainage
structures on their properties such as sumps, recharge basins, sewage or wastewater treatment facilities,
street catch basins, salt marsh ditches, upland streams, ponds, and pools (unless law dictates otherwise).
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies to eliminate larval mosquito breeding sites should be
pursued. Privately owned or operated sewer facilities should be maintained in a similar fashion to
eliminate larval mosquito breeding.
Municipalities collect and disseminate information on methods to control mosquito populations in their
communities, coordinate mosquito control activities on public property, and work with state agencies on
behalf of residents in their jurisdiction. Regulations relevant to mosquito control and the powers of local
directors of health can be found in the Public Health Code (see Appendix F).
Mosquito Control Through the Use of Insecticides
Larvicides can be used to control mosquitoes in the aquatic stage before they become biting adults. This
type of control using insecticides generally is the most effective at controlling mosquitoes and has the
least effect on non-target species and the environment. The use of larvicides may require a permit from
the DEP, and the product must be registered for use in Connecticut. Depending upon the type of product
used, or for commercial applications, the applicator must be licensed by the DEP Pesticide Unit to apply
Adulticides can be used to kill adult mosquitoes that may be infected with WNV. Currently available
adulticides may be applied by hand-held, backpack or truck-mounted Ultra Low Volume (ULV) foggers,
or by fixed-wing or rotary aircraft. These materials have advantages and disadvantages that will influence
which material is most appropriate for a given situation, and all must be applied according to regulations
and label directions.
In preparation for adulticiding (either ground or aerial application) the state will obtain the services of an
aerial-spray contractor. Contractors will be in place for either ground or aerial ULV adulticide
application by the state.
Factors affecting decisions to begin application of adulticide
When the decision to adulticide has been made, weather and logistical conditions may affect the ability
of the applicator to effectively control adult mosquito populations. The following conditions and
restrictions apply to adulticide application:
The DEP will determine boundaries for spraying in consultation with local officials such as chief
elected officials, local health directors, police and fire departments, public works officials, local
agriculture representatives, and other officials as appropriate. Consideration will be given to the
flight range of any mosquitoes that tested positive, the density of the population and network of roads
in the affected areas, the extent of traps in the area and the numbers and species of mosquitoes in
those traps, and the use of global positioning and aerial photos.
DEP officials will meet with the contractors to go over aerial photos and other geographic
information to confirm logistics and boundaries for spraying.
The DEP will issue public service announcements and press releases to inform the public of the areas to be sprayed with a minimum 24-hour notice. Public service announcements (PSAs) will include
date, time, duration, and location of spraying; and precautions to take while spraying is occurring.
The Mosquito Management Program will consult with any affected DEP programs, including
Pesticides, Fisheries, State Parks, Inland Water Resources, and Conservation Law Enforcement.
The State Office of Emergency Management may be activated to coordinate any public safety issues that may arise if aerial spraying is done.
The DEP will collect reports from the public regarding the misuse or misapplications of pesticides. Persons who believe they have witnessed a misuse or misapplication of a pesticide should contact the DEP Pesticides Division at (860) 424-3369 from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Outside of these hours, the public can contact the DEP 24-hour Emergency Dispatch Center at (860) 424-3333 to report pesticide misuse or misapplication.
Communication and Public Awareness Activities
Public education about mosquito-borne diseases, particularly modes of transmitting and means of
preventing or reducing risk for exposure, is a critical component of a prevention and control program.
Communication and public awareness activities are designed to provide pertinent information both
before and during the mosquito season. The goals of the communications and public awareness plan are
including personal protective measures and homeowner source reduction, Connecticut’s WNV
Surveillance and Response Plan, and the use of larvicides and other control methods.
information about pesticides.
State Outreach to Municipal Officials
To enhance the knowledge of municipal officials (Local Directors of Health and Chief Elected
Officials) before the onset of mosquito season, the DEP will conduct an annual training meeting with
two separate program focuses. One part of the workshop will include the WNV surveillance
activities in the state, WNV and associated health risks, public health action levels, and general
communications and public outreach materials. The other part of the workshop will focus on the
mosquito management program including techniques on mosquito reduction, larviciding,
adulticiding, and pesticide use and risk. An overarching goal will be to train local health department
staff to provide outreach to target audiences within their jurisdictions.
State and Municipal Outreach to the General Public
possible, provide outreach to target audiences within their jurisdictions.
include the public, educators, nature groups and environmental groups. Topics will include mosquito reduction techniques, WNV surveillance system, WNV health risks, and ways to reduce risk from WNV. The DEP Office of Communications will select dates from April through September.
state Web site, and a telephone information line stating specific recorded information. DEP’s
Information Phone Line and the linked web sites of DEP, DPH, CAES and DoAg will provide the
most current information on local and state activities in affected areas, preventative measures and test results. The 24-hour Information Line telephone number is 1-866-WNV-LINE. Informational
materials are available at http://dep.state.ct.us/mosquito/index.asp.
State Outreach When WNV Activity is Identified
In the event of a positive isolation of WNV in mosquitoes, birds, domestic animals or humans in
Connecticut or a neighboring state:
telephone by either the DEP or the DPH. Prevention and control measures will be discussed (see
Public Health Action Levels).
officials including officials from neighboring towns, as soon as possible. The purpose of this call
will be to develop an action plan based on the Public Health Action Levels. The State will issue
its disease prevention and control recommendations after municipal officials from the towns
affected have been provided an opportunity for input and collaboration.
Based on discussions with municipal officials in the towns affected, a series of public health actions will be taken and communicated to the public via the media (see Communicating with the Media).
The DEP will produce press releases and written text for public service announcements to reflect the
level of public health notification, and if any specific state action will occur. The state will make
every effort to provide a minimum of 24 hours notice to the public for any ground-level low volume
or aerial spraying of adulticides. The state will provide a limited number of signs to the town on
details of the public health notification and alert status. The state will assist municipalities with key
support information on responses to common questions from the general public.
Municipal Outreach When WNV Activity is Identified
Communicating with the Media
WNV is confirmed in a mosquito pool or a public health alert is issued. These PSAs will target
personal protective measures individuals can take to reduce their exposure to WNV and precautions to take during pesticide spraying. Radio PSAs are also available in Spanish.
prime airtime of the PSAs through co-sponsorship with the station. DEP will also be working with New York State Public Health Officials to coordinate public outreach campaigns when possible.
birds, and domestic animals) beginning mid-May 2001 and continuing throughout the mosquito
season. Test results will be released to the media weekly on Wednesday. If there is an immediate
need to release information outside designated days, DEP will do so. All press materials will be
faxed statewide to local health directors and chief elected officials.
detected in a town. The release may be delayed 24-hours to provide local officials time to prepare
their response. Additional findings of WNV activity in a town will be reported by the DPH to the
local heath director as soon as available and will appear in the weekly summary tables released by
the DEP. These additional findings of WNV activity may be directly released to the media by the
local health director.
communication by the DPH and CAES. Staff at the DEP, DPH, CAES, DoAg, and UConn will also be available to answer questions. Important phone numbers and a glossary of terms related to mosquito control and public health can be found in Appendixes H and I.
Public Health Action Levels
If WNV is confirmed in Connecticut, the DPH, in consultation with other state and local agencies, will
evaluate the potential threat to human health. Following evaluation of the data obtained from public
health surveillance activities, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, after consulting with the
Commissioner of Public Health, will recommend that control measures be implemented in proportion to
the threat of WNV infections in people. Each response level is described below along with the specific
actions that will be undertaken.
Level I – Public Health Notification
A Public Health Notification will be announced when WNV is first detected and confirmed in a
Connecticut town through bird, mosquito, or domestic animal surveillance. Confirmation of WNV will
be based upon identification of WNV infection in tissue or mosquitoes, or serologic samples taken from
birds, horses or other domestic animals.
The following actions will be taken when a Public Health Notification is announced:
1. Evaluate the need to expand mosquito trapping and to enhance human and bird surveillance both
locally and beyond town lines.
2. Expand efforts to disseminate information on prevention and control methods to local health
directors, elected government officials, and the public. The educational message should emphasize
the importance of Culex mosquito breeding site reduction. Educational efforts in the area affected
should also target older persons who are at increased risk for severe WNV illness and should
emphasize the use of personal protective measures.
3. Evaluate the need for additional larviciding in the affected area and recommend additional
applications as necessary.
Level II – Public Health Alert
A Public Health Alert will be announced in a town or contiguous towns when WNV is confirmed in:
The following actions will be taken if a Public Health Alert is announced:
1. All actions in a Public Health Alert response will be initiated or continued and, in addition, if needed, information on adulticide applications will be disseminated. Additional emphasis should be placed on use of personal protective measures to minimize exposure to mosquitoes due to the higher risk of WNV transmission to humans.
2. The State Mosquito Management Team will conduct an evaluation of surveillance data from all
sources in this and surrounding towns, the time of year, extent of previous larval mosquito control activities, level of current mosquito activity, ability to thoroughly cover the area of risk by ground
spraying, and weather conditions (see Mosquito Control).
3. Based on this evaluation, the Commissioners of Environmental Protection and Public Health, in
consultation with local town officials, will consider and may recommend the ground application of
adulticide to kill mosquitoes in the geographic area where WNV is thought to pose the highest
4. The application of adulticides by the State at this action level will be done only with the approval of the municipal officials in the towns affected.
Level III – Public Health Warning
A Public Health Warning will be announced when WNV is confirmed in a Connecticut town or
evidence of the virus presents a serious risk to human health based upon high levels of WNV activity (e.g. two or more human-biting mosquito species in the area of concern test positive for WNV).
The following actions will be taken if a Public Health Warning is announced:
1. All actions in a Level II response will be continued or initiated; and in addition;
2. The Commissioners of Environmental Protection and Public Health will recommend the ground
application of adulticide in the area affected when the Commissioner of Environmental Protection
has determined that the application of adulticide is necessary to control mosquito vectors of human
disease pursuant to CGS section 22a-54(e). The recommendation will be conditional and will be
based on the evaluation conducted by the State Mosquito Management Team of surveillance data
from all sources in this and surrounding towns, the time of year, extent of previous larval mosquito
control activities, level of current mosquito activity, ability to thoroughly cover the area of risk by
ground spraying, and weather conditions.
3. The Commissioners of Environmental Protection and Public Health will review the potential need for
aerial application of adulticides after evaluating surveillance data from all sources in the area and
surrounding towns, the time of year, current level of mosquito activity, the size of the affected area,
the practicality of ground spraying of the same area and weather conditions.
4. The application of adulticides by the State at this action level will be done only with the approval of
the municipal officials in the towns affected.
Level IV – Public Health Emergency
The Commissioner of Public Health may proclaim a Public Health Emergency, pursuant to CGS Section
22a-66l, when WNV is confirmed in a town or contiguous towns in Connecticut:
The following actions will be taken if a Public Health Emergency is proclaimed:
1. Continue or initiate all actions in a Level III response; and, in addition,
2. In accordance with the provisions of CGS Section 28-9, the Governor will evaluate the need for
declaring a civil preparedness emergency;
3. After consultation with the Commissioner of Public Health, the Commissioner of Environmental
Protection has the responsibility and authority to act unilaterally if the application of chemical
pesticides from the air or ground is necessary to control mosquito vectors of human disease pursuant
to CGS section 22a-54(e). Concurrent with this determination, officials from the Mosquito
Management Program will meet with local officials in the affected communities to inform them of
the situation and to discuss the logistics of spraying.
4. The application of adulticides by the State at this action level does not require the approval of the
municipal officials in the towns affected.
For Appendices A-E please contact DPH for individual brochure copies:
Appendix A: CT Mosquito Management Program Annual Report – 2000
Appendix B: Mosquito Protection for People Property and Pets
Appendix C: Personal Protection Against Mosquitoes - Using DEET
Appendix D: West Nile Virus - Human Infection
Appendix E: Pesticides and Mosquito Control - Using Adulticides
Appendix F: Public Health Code Citations and Other Pertinent Regulations
The Public Health Code 2000 is a compilation of the regulations that pertain specifically to the
Department of Public Health (pursuant to Section 19a-36 of the General Statutes of Connecticut).
Regulations relevant to mosquito control and the powers of local health departments and the
confidentiality of are listed below:
19-13-B1. Conditions specifically declared to constitute public nuisances
The following conditions are specifically declared to constitute public nuisances:
(a) Bakeries, restaurants and other places where food is prepared or served that are not kept in a clean and sanitary condition; or in which persons who have any communicable disease are employed; or for which suitable toilet facilities are not provided; or in which there is evidence that rats, mice or vermin are present.
(b) Spoiled or diseased meats, whether exposed and offered for sale or being transported or kept for sale.
(c) Barns or stables, hogpens, chicken yards or manure piles or accumulations of organic material so maintained as to be a breeding place for flies.
(d) The discharge or exposure of sewage, garbage or any other organic filth into or on any public place in such a way that transmission of infective material may result thereby.
(e) Privies not screened against flies in populous districts and privies likely to pollute the ground or surface water from which water supply is obtained.
(f) Transportation of garbage, night soil or other organic filth except in tight, covered wagons which prevent leakage or access of flies.
(g) Stagnant water likely to afford breeding places for mosquitoes within a residential district or
within a distance of one thousand feet therefrom.
(h) Bone boiling, fat rendering establishments, or tallow or soap works, or other trades, when they can be shown to affect public health or produce serious offense.
(i) Buildings or any part thereof which are in a dilapidated or filthy condition which may endanger the life or health of persons living in the vicinity.
19-13-B2. Abatement of nuisance
(a) Any local director of health, upon information of the existence of a nuisance or any pollution occurring within his jurisdiction, or when any such nuisance or pollution comes to his attention, shall, within a reasonable time, investigate and, upon finding such nuisance or pollution exists, shall issue his order in writing for the abatement of the same.
(b) Such order shall specify the nature of such nuisance or pollution and shall designate the time within which such abatement or discontinuance shall be accomplished; and if such order is not complied with within the time specified, the facts shall be submitted to the prosecuting authority. Copies of all orders shall be kept on file by the director of health in his office and copies of the same shall be furnished the state commissioner of health on request.
19-13-B31. Stagnant water
No person shall maintain or permit to be maintained any pond, cesspool, well, cistern, rain barrel or other receptacle containing water or accumulation of stagnant water in such a condition that mosquitoes may breed therein or may injure health or cause offense to other persons.
Regulation of Pesticide Use
Both state and federal statutes regulate pesticide use in Connecticut. The state and federal statutes require
users of pesticides to adhere to the directions provided on the product’s label. Any deviation from the
label’s directions is a violation of law. The label is the law.
Chapter 441 of the Connecticut General Statutes, the Connecticut Pest Control Act is the governing state
statute. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as amended by the Federal
Environmental Pesticide Control Act (FEPCA) of October 1972 and the FIFRA Amendments of 1975,
1978, 1980, 1988, and 1996 is the governing federal statute.
The DEP Division of Pesticides, PCB, Underground Tank & Terminal registers distributors of restricted
use pesticides; processes permit applications for pesticide and herbicide applications; and certifies and
oversees activities of pesticide applicators.
Appendix G: Important Phone Numbers, Websites and E-Mail Addresses
Department of Environmental Protection
- Latest test results, public information, brochures, PSAs 1-866-WNV-LINE (toll free)
*Mosquito Management Information Line (860) 424-4184
- Latest information on test results, spray locations, protective measures
*Communications Division (860) 424-4100
- Mosquito testing results, state mosquito control policy and programs, media inquiries
*Non-harvested Wildlife Program (860) 675-8130
- Request by local health departments for pickup and testing of dead birds, WNV infection in other wildlife
For local health departments to request pickup of birdsWNVCROWS@po.state.ct.us
*Wetlands Habitat and Mosquito Management Program (860) 642-7630
- Technical questions regarding mosquitoes, mosquito control measures
*Division of Pesticides, PCBs, and Underground Tanks (860) 424-3369
- Technical questions regarding safe pesticide use and chemical make-up. Also, persons who wish
to be specifically notified prior to a pesticide application or those who are chemically sensitive
to pesticides should contact the Pesticide Pre-Notification Registry at this number.
Department of Public Health http://www.state.ct.us/dph/
*Epidemiology Program (860) 509-7994
- WNV infections in people, laboratory testing of human specimens, surveillance of WNV in wild
For local health departments to send dead bird sightings report log - fax to (860) 509-7910 / e-mail to
*Toxic Hazards Assessment Program (860) 509-7742
- Effects of pesticides on people
*Virology Laboratory (860) 509-8553
- Technical questions regarding testing of human specimens from physicians, hospitals, laboratories
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station http://www.caes.state.ct.us/
*Main Number (203) 974-8604
- Technical questions from local health departments regarding mosquito trapping and testing in their area
University of Connecticut http://www.canr.uconn.edu/patho/
*Pathobiology Department (860) 486-4000.
- Inquiries from local health departments regarding testing of birds and other animals not included in the state surveillance system
Department of Agriculture http://www.state.ct.us/doag/
*Office of the State Veterinarian (860) 713-2505
- WNV infections in domestic animals, including livestock, poultry, and pets.
Appendix H: Glossary of Terms
Related to Mosquito Control and Public Health
adulticide: a type of pesticide used to kill adult mosquitoes
arthropod: a group of animals that do not have a backbone such as insects, spiders, and Crustaceans
Assay: a laboratory test
avian surveillance: monitoring of the bird population for presence of a disease
Bacillus sphaericus: a bacterium; type of biological pesticide used to eradicate mosquito larvae in
water (mosquito larvae die after ingesting this bacteria)
Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis (BTI): a bacterium; type of biological pesticide used to eradicate mosquito larvae in water (mosquito larvae die after ingesting this bacteria)
catch basins: grates seen at street corners for water runoff
communicable diseases: illnesses due to specific infectious agents or their toxic products that can be transmitted from an infected person or animal to a susceptible host; either directly or indirectly through an intermediate host
Culex pipiens: species of mosquito, the primary known vector for West Nile virus, commonly found in urban areas; breeds in fresh but stagnant water such as backyard containers and storm drains
DEET: DEET (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is the active ingredient in many insect repellent products
encephalitis: inflammation of the brain, which can be caused by numerous viruses, including West Nile Virus
etiologic agents: biologic organism or chemical material that cause disease.
gravid traps: type of mosquito traps designed to attract pregnant female mosquitoes
IgM-capture enzyme immunoassay (EIA) testing: a laboratory analysis for the presence of Immunoglobulin M antibodies (antibodies that rise during the acute phase of an illness and are a sign of recent infection)
indirect IgG enzyme immunoassay (EIA) testing: a laboratory analysis for the presence of Immunoglobulin G antibodies (long-lasting antibodies; their presence are a sign of past infection)
larvae: immature mosquitoes; stage which hatches from the egg, prior to adult stage
larvicide: a type of pesticide used to eradicate immature mosquitoes (larvae)
meningitis: inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord which can be caused by a virus or a bacteria
methoprene: a type of larvicide; chemical that is used to prevent mosquito larvae from emerging and developing into adult mosquitoes
migratory birds: birds that fly south for the winter and return north in the spring
mosquito breeding site: a location where mosquitoes lay eggs, usually in stagnant water with organic
mosquito pools: a group of mosquitoes collected in one area and combined at the laboratory for
testing for the presence of West Nile and related viruses
N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide: DEET (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is the active ingredient in many insect repellent products
necropsy: autopsy on an animal
outbreak: an unexpected increase in frequency or distribution of a disease
overwintering: a period of rest or hibernation by which insects survive the winter. WNV Response Plan -- Draft 24
pesticide: substance used to kill pests such as insects, mice and rats; insecticide is a form of
pyrethroid: a synthetic complex organic compound with insecticidal properties similar to
resmethrin: a synthetic pyrethroid pesticide used to eradicate adult mosquitoes in the home,
lawn, garden and at industrial sites; active ingredient in the product Scourge
salt marsh: areas of vegetation in bodies of salt water that may support the breeding of certain types of mosquitoes such as Aedes sollicitans; examples of salt marshes are Stratford Great Meadows and Hammonasset State Park
serologic: of, or relating to serum
serum: liquid portion of the blood containing proteins, including antibodies
vector: an organism (an insect in most cases) capable of carrying and transmitting a
disease-causing agent from one host to another
vector control: mechanism instituted to control and reduce the vector population
vector surveillance: monitoring of the vector population for presence of a disease
viral: of or relating to a virus
viral encephalitis: inflammation of the brain caused by a virus
References, Bibliography, Notes