Saturday, September 20, 2008

LOCAL: DEP To Spray More In Area For West Nile

(previously published here at

Residents of Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties can expect more frequent mosquito sprayings in the evening hours by state and county West Nile Virus program staff.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) southeastern office is increasing treatment efforts due to an "exceptionally high number of West Nile-infected mosquitoes" in the area. Only those areas with the type of mosquitoes capable of carrying the virus will be sprayed. Spraying locations are made public online and through press release one day in advance.

"With nearly 70 percent of the state's infected mosquitoes are here in the southeast region; we're taking coordinated action to reduce this threat," said the DEP's regional director Joseph A. Feola in a press release. DEP has temporarily reassigned certified pesticide applicators from other parts of the state to support the increased treatment effort.

While most counties in the commonwealth have fewer than two positive mosquito samples, our four counties topped the list: Bucks is listed with 41 positives, Delaware with 42, Montgomery with 29 (28 mosquito, 1 human) and Philadelphia with 22.

One human case of the West Nile virus was confirmed last month in a 27-year-old Montgomery County woman, who was treated and released. The goal of spraying is to prevent the virus from spreading from insects and animals to humans.

DEP uses Biomist 3+15 spray, a permethrin insecticide produced by Illinois-based Clarke Mosquito Control. Sprays are dispersed via truck-mounted equipment by certified DEP staff. The fact that the spray is a chemical can be of concern to many parents and families, but the DEP maintains the product's safety as the spraying is done at a fraction of the volume limited by federal health regulations (0.75 ounces per acre, with a federal threshold of 3 ounces per acre).

"We are able to target our spraying closely enough n time and space, as well as with low enough concentrations that it poses no harmful risk to humans, including children," DEP spokesman Dennis Harney said. "The product was chosen based on its efficiency and ability to be applied safely."

Still, people are generally advised to stay inside while spraying is performed.

As for farmland areas, the spray's sample product label claims it is safe for many crops, but it recommends covering animal feed and not using it over open pasture lands. As the mosquito season lasts until the first frost in October, DEP spraying will continue until that period of time, Mr. Harney said.

For more precautions and information on West Nile in your area, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Web site. For spraying locations, see Current test results for mosquitoes, humans and animals are also available on the site and via telephone.

Heather J. Chin can be reached at

©The Evening Bulletin 2008

No comments: