Press Release

New York City Office of Public Affairs                                                

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, April 13, 2000
Contact: br>Sunny Mindel/Mary Lasher (212) 788-2958
Sandra Mullin, DOH (212) 788-5290


                          PREVENTION AND CONTROL PLAN


City's Plan to Eliminate Larvae from City's Storm Drains

West Nile Virus Public Education Campaign to Begin

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and City officials today unveiled New York City's comprehensive West Nile virus (WVN) prevention and control plan. The plan includes larviciding, mosquito, bird and human surveillance activities, and a public education campaign.

Among New York City officials joining the Mayor for the announcement were City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone, Queens Borough President Claire Shulman and City Council member Walter McCaffrey. Also in attendance were Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Neal L. Cohen, M.D.; Mayor's Office of Emergency Management Director Richard J. Sheirer; Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Joel A. Miele, Sr., P.E.; Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Henry J. Stein and Department of Sanitation Commissioner (DOS) Kevin P. Farrell.

Mayor Giuliani said," Over the past several months, the New York City Department of Health has been working very closely with the New York State Department of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the New York City Department of Sanitation and other City, State, and Federal agencies to develop and implement a citywide plan to help prevent the return of West Nile virus. This tireless effort has resulted in a comprehensive plan that will go a long way toward protecting our city from West Nile or any other mosquito-borne virus."


Beginning the week of April 17, and continuing through October, the City will treat storm drains and other areas of standing water with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) and New York Sate Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC)-approved larvicides to help control mosquito breeding and help prevent mosquito larvae from becoming adult mosquitoes. The initial application will continue through May, and follow up applications will be administered, as needed, through the end of October.

Health Commissioner Cohen said, "Our expectation is that, with an early and aggressive campaign against mosquitoes that includes the City's larviciding efforts and the public's contributions through eliminating areas of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, the need to spray adult mosquitoes will be greatly reduced. Our intensive surveillance program should provide early warning signs of any possible return of the virus that might endanger the public."

The Health Department will use three larvicides this spring and summer, each of which has been approved for mosquito control by the EPA and the DEC. These three larvicides will be placed into storm drains and other significant areas of standing water to combat the spread of mosquitoes with the West Nile virus. These product are: Altosid (Methoprene); Vectolex (Bacillus sphaericuss), and Vectobac (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis). Altosid prevents larval mosquitoes from becoming adults. Vectolex and Vectobac contain a bacteria which kills mosquito larvae. All three have been found to be very effective in controlling mosquito larvae.

The Department of Environmental Protection is working with the Health Department to locate catch basins and potential breeding sites for mosquitoes and has expanded the use of larvae eating fish at its waste treatment plants. These fish, commonly called "mosquito fish" or Gambusia affinis, have been used by the Department of Environmental Protection for the past two years in the City's waste water treatment plants when evidence is found that mosquito larvae exists. These hearty fish survive in most water environments, including sewage treatment, and will last through the winter months. "Mosquito fish" reproduce every 28 days and can consume up to 230 larvae in one hour.

DEP Commissioner Joel A. Miele said, "Working with the Health Department we're doing everything we can to help protect the public health."

On April 18, the Health Department will propose a resolution to the New York City Board of Health to declare water accumulations, which can enable mosquitoes to breed and allow mosquito larvae to develop into adult mosquitoes, a public nuisance widespread throughout the City, and to require owners and others in control of property to abate those nuisances.

City's Clean -Up Effort and Tire Disposal Program

Mayor Giuliani said, "Mosquito larvae can grow in as little as a cup of water so I am asking all New Yorkers to clear out areas of standing water. Unclogging roof gutters, emptying unused swimming pools, changing bird baths at least once a week and discarding old tires, buckets and other containers that hold water will go a long way in protecting the City's health."

The Department of Sanitation is participating in a number of measures designed to eradicate the breeding grounds of mosquitoes including cleaning lots where debris has been dumped and launching a 'Tire Disposal Program.' Sanitation Commissioner Kevin Farrell said," Because we know tires serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes, we are implementing a Tire Disposal Program. New Yorkers can bring up to four passengers tires to one of the 59 sanitation garages located in any of the five boroughs between 8:00am and 4:00pm, Monday though Friday, excluding holidays. Additional information on the Tire Disposal Program can be obtained through the Sanitation Department's Action Center at 212-219-8090."

Public Education and Outreach Campaign- "Mosquitoes-Proof New York City"
Components of the public education and outreach campaign include:

•Posters placed in buses, on telephone kiosks, and billboards and Sanitation trucks; 
•Posters, brochures, and facts sheets (in 11 languages) distributed citywide; 
•Radio and television public service announcements, newspaper ads, and an activity book for children; 
•Extensive outreach to elected officials community boards, and community groups citywide; 
•A special West Nile issue of City Health Information, the Health Department's bulletin for the medical community, will be distributed to health care professional in early May.

Comprehensive Surveillance and Control Plan  The comprehensive surveillance and control plan consists of:  

•Proactive surveillance activities to detect mosquitoes and birds infected with West Nile virus; 
•Sentinel bird testing system in which birds located throughout the City will be tested regularly for the presence of West Nile virus; 
•Enhanced hospital and laboratory surveillance system to detect human cases.

If spraying is needed to prevent or address illness in the human population, EPA and DEC-approved pyrethroid-based insecticides would be used, including Scourge (Resmethrin), Anvil (Sumethrin), and Agrevo Permanone (Permethrin). They would be sprayed primarily by truck, but if necessary, also from the air. The City's early warning systems will detect the spread of West Nile virus in birds and mosquitoes, and will help direct targeted and effective use of pesticides, if needed. The public will be notified through public service radio announcements, the media, the Health Department's Web site, the Health Department's telephone information line, and outreach to community-based organizations.

The Health Department has established an automated West Nile information Line, (877) WNV-4NYC or (877) 968-4692 which New Yorkers can call 24 hours a day, seven-days-a-week, for information about West Nile virus and how to eliminate mosquito breeding sites, as well as to report dead birds and areas of standing water. (New Yorkers who use TTY/TDD can call (212) 788-4947. Weekdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m.) In addition, information concerning West Nile virus, as well as dead bird and standing water report form, are available on the Health Department's Web site.


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