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Metro Newsroom

Louisville’s Multi-Agency Mosquito Approach Improving Public Health

Wednesday July 20, 2005

Mayor reports cases of West Nile Virus down 96 percent, urges continued precaution

Mayor Jerry Abramson today said that confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in humans are down 96 percent in Louisville thanks to continued precautions taken by residents and a collaborative mosquito-control effort involving several public agencies.
More than 200 employees representing 11 public agencies – Louisville Metro Health Department, Public Works, Metro Parks, Solid Waste Management, Facilities Management, Inspections Permits & Licensing, Metro Animal Services, Louisville Water Company, Metropolitan Sewer District, Louisville Zoo and Jefferson County Public Schools – are involved in the community’s mosquito control.
The collaborative mosquito-control approach began in May 2003. In the year prior, there were 28 human cases of West Nile Virus in Louisville, resulting in two deaths, according to the Health Department. Since Metro Government coordinated the multi-agency approach, there has been only one confirmed West Nile case in Louisville. Previously only a handful of Health Department employees were available for mosquito control.

“This was one of the first cooperative, multi-agency approaches we initiated after merger, and it has had remarkable success in protecting the health of our community,” Abramson said. “With our recent rains, though, it is especially important that citizens continue to take precautions against mosquitoes.”

The Health Department is the lead government agency coordinating mosquito control. “Mosquitoes are not just a nuisance, they are health threat to our citizens, and can spread diseases that sicken, and in some cases, kill,” said Connie Mendel, the Health Department’s coordinator for mosquito control. She said the Health Department focuses on educating the public about how to reduce mosquito breeding grounds, treating standing water to prevent breeding, monitoring mosquito-borne diseases and responding to citizen complaints.

Other tactics of Louisville’s multi-agency mosquito-fighting effort include:
· Training and certifying employees to use larvacide briquettes to treat hundreds of locations throughout the community where standing water can become mosquito breeding grounds such as roadside ditches and standing water.

· Cutting grass across thousands of miles of ditches, streams and drainage channels, and treating areas with larvacide briquettes;

· Emptying standing water from containers found in alleys, and properly disposing of waste tires, which can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes;

· Eliminating or treating sources of standing water in parks and other public properties;

· Periodic fogging of targeted areas with high concentrations of potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes; and

· Using computer software and electronic hand-held devices with geographic information systems to coordinate the efforts of the Metro Government agencies to treat standing water, to track citizen complaints and to improve efficiency in all efforts.

Health Department recommendations

To reduce mosquito bites and the risk of becoming infected with West Nile Virus, the Health Department recommends:
· Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants;

· Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET or permethrin; or, two new repellents now also recommended by CDC: picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus;

· Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin, taking care to avoid the eyes and mouth. An effective repellent will contain 35 percent DEET;

· For children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a DEET concentration of 10 percent or less;

· Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors; and
· Remove all water sources around your home where mosquitoes can breed.