Because of increasing numbers of Culex mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus (WNV), the City of Lincoln will begin spraying to kill adult mosquitos in the early Friday morning, August 15, weather permitting. This is the first time the City has sprayed for mosquitos in at least 30 years.
WNV can cause severe illness in people and may result in long term hospitalization and even death. In 2002, 16 people in Lancaster County were diagnosed with West Nile Disease, and one person died. Currently in Lancaster County, two people are confirmed as having had West Nile Disease, and nine people are “probable” cases. Last year at this same time, no cases had been identified.
“Public health is a major priority of City government,” said Mayor Coleen Seng. “Given the number of cases we have seen so far, we are very concerned that many more people may become infected with WNV this year. Spraying to kill adult mosquitos is an effective way to control the problem, but the public must continue to take personal precautions as well.”
The spraying program will be a joint effort of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, the City Parks and Recreation Department and Public Works and Utilities Department. Employees responsible for the spraying operations are certified pesticide operators. Four City employees also went to St. Paul, Minnesota for training and observation.
“The new mosquito control equipment we have purchased is called an ultra-low volume fogger, and it converts liquid pesticide into a very fine mist,” said Bruce D. Dart, Health Director. “Only 1.5 ounces of pesticide are needed to treat an area about the size of a football field. Under the most favorable weather conditions, mosquitoes will be controlled up to 300 feet downwind.”
The Health Department will identify areas to be sprayed based on three main factors: where human cases of West Nile Disease occur, how many mosquitos are in an area, and what percentage of mosquitos caught in traps are positive for WNV. Two areas have been selected for Friday morning’s first spraying:
The four sprayers are mounted on the back of City pick-up trucks. The City will use the pesticide Anvil 2+27. Its two active ingredients are Sumithrin, a man- made version of a natural pesticide found in chrysanthemum flowers, and piperonyl butoxide, which helps Sumithrin work better against mosquitos. “We chose Anvil 2+27 because it is effective in killing adult mosquitos, and it is one of the least toxic pesticides available,” said Dart.
Those with severe asthma or with extremely sensitive allergies to pyrethroid pesticides may contact the Health Department at 441-8027 to ask that spraying not be done on their property.
Spraying operations will normally be conducted around dusk and dawn. Areas of the City to be sprayed will be published in the Lincoln Journal Star and posted on the home page of the City’s web site, www.lincoln.ne.gov. (Click on “Mosquito Spraying.”)
Because spraying will not kill all mosquitoes and will only be done in the most affected areas, the Health Department continues to encourage the public to take the following precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitos:
In addition, the Health Department urges all residents to eliminate mosquito breeding sites on their properties by eliminating standing water and regularly changing water in bird baths and pet dishes.
Those with questions on West Nile Virus, mosquito control, or mosquito spraying and those with complaints on mosquito breeding sites or standing water can contact the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department at 441-8027.