Dept. of Health Official Explains West Nile Virus Spraying Procedures

At area meeting, Dr. Waheed Bajwa also said the disease is less active in NYC than in 2011, but urged continued caution against bites.


While Prospect Heights and most of NYC has mostly been spared from the , area residents were reminded Thursday that vigilance is still warranted.

Following the recent discovery of the  and other parts of Brooklyn, Dr. Waheed Bajwa, executive director of the DOH Office of Vector Surveillance and Control, appeared before members and the public Thursday afternoon in Windsor Terrace.

"West Nile virus is a serious disease," said Bajwa, "It can kill. So the message for the public is the best methods are preventive, and to avoid mosquito bites."

He said they have been placing traps for adult mosquitos on the north and south sides of , on the borders of Windsor Terrace and Prospect Heights. The DOH posts regular updates on West Nile virus activity on their site.

When treating an area such as Prospect Park Bajwa said precautions are taken to minimize human exposure to insecticides.

"We don't spray the entire park," he said, "Only those areas not close to water bodies, and with a 300 ft. buffer zone."

While 2012 has actually been a less active year for the virus in NYC than in 2011 and 2010, Bajwa said one plausible reason for the scale of the nationwide outbreak has been this summer's drought conditions.

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Hot weather prompts people to spend more time outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active, while at the same time wearing less protective clothing. The lack of rain means pools of water aren't disturbed and become safe havens for generations of mosquito larva.

Since flying adult insects are difficult to eliminate, extermination efforts focus on the larva. When infected insects are found, which can take as little as 24 hours from when a sample is taken, the city schedules treatment in the area.

On Thursday night, the city treated Brooklyn's southern shore—in the neighborhoods of Canarsie, East Flatbush, Flatlands, Georgetown, Marine Park, Mills Island, Mills Basin, Paerdegat Basin, Spring Creek and Starrett City.

The DOH offers the following advice to prevent mosquito breeding.

  • Eliminate any standing water that collects on your property.
  • Remind or help neighbors to eliminate mosquito breeding sites on their properties.
  • Repair or replace all screens in your home that have tears or holes.

To avoid mosquito bites, the DOH suggests the following:

  • Wear protective clothing such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are searching for a blood meal.
  • Avoid shaded, bushy areas where mosquitoes like to rest.
  • Limit outdoor evening activity, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to help reduce exposure to mosquitoes. Always read the repellents label. For more information, see DOHMH's Insect Repellent Use & Safety Fact Sheet.


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