Chicago to spray in some areas for West Nile virus

August 14, 2013 12:59:46 PM PDT
City to spray insecticide Thursday to kill mosquitos

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) will spray to kill adult mosquitoes in select Chicago neighborhoods on Thursday, August 15, as part of the department's ongoing efforts to fight West Nile Virus.

Spraying will occur in portions of Austin, Belmont Cragin, Dunning, Montclare and Portage Park effecting parts of Wards 28, 29, 30, 31, 36, 37 and 38. The area to be sprayed is large in order to reduce the prevalence of disease carrying mosquitoes as much as possible. City employees are hanging notices on resident's doors informing them of the spraying. For a map of areas to be sprayed, click here

"When West Nile Virus poses a threat to Chicagoans, it is our job to act swiftly to eliminate the threat and keep our residents healthy," said CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D.

Weather permitting, the spraying will begin at dusk on Thursday, August 15, 2013 and continue through the night until approximately 1:00am, with mosquito abatement technicians in trucks dispensing an ultra-low-volume spray.

The material being used to control the adult mosquitoes, Zenivex?, will be applied at a rate of 1.5 fluid ounces per acre. It is approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is used to control mosquitoes in outdoor residential and recreational areas. Zenivex? has been used effectively to control disease-carrying mosquitoes and is non-persistent, decomposing rapidly in the environment. The rapid degradation of this product makes it an excellent choice for control of West Nile Virus-carrying mosquitoes. The spray will be applied by mosquito abatement technicians from Vector Disease Control International, a leader in the mosquito control industry. Guiding the crews through the streets will be supervisors from the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation.

While the spray is not harmful to people or pets and is routinely sprayed in residential areas across the nation, residents of targeted neighborhoods may choose to stay indoors and close their windows while spraying is underway, as an extra precaution.

"Spraying is a safe and effective way to control disease carrying mosquitoes. By reducing the number of mosquitoes in high-risk areas we expect that this will help minimize the number of human cases of West Nile Virus in Chicago," said CDPH Environmental Health Medical Director Cort Lohff, M.D.

Each year, CDPH conducts a comprehensive West Nile Virus surveillance, prevention and control program. In addition to spraying, this includes dropping larvacide in catch basins, which helps limit the number of mosquitoes that can carry the virus, and regularly testing mosquitoes caught in traps throughout the city. By utilizing data the city is able to most efficiently target high-risk areas for the virus.

CDPH reminds residents to take precautions against mosquitoes that may carry the virus, including:

  • Use insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
  • Eliminate standing water. This includes emptying water from flowerpots, gutters, pool covers, pet water dishes and birdbaths regularly.
  • Keep grass and weeds short to eliminate hiding places for adult mosquitoes.
  • When outside between dusk and dawn, wear loose-fitting, light colored clothing including long pants, long sleeve shirts, socks and shoes.
  • Check that all screens, windows and doors are tight-fitting and free of holes and tears
  • Check on neighbors regularly who may need additional assistance, including the elderly.

In 2013, CDPH previously sprayed in the following neighborhoods:

  • Auburn Gresham (7/17)
  • Forest Glen (7/17)
  • Washington Heights (7/17)
  • Albany Park (7/25)
  • Irving Park (7/25)
  • Avondale (7/25 and 8/8)
  • Lincoln Park (8/8)
  • Logan Square (8/8)
  • North Center (8/8)

West Nile Virus cannot be transmitted from person-to-person. Instead, it is transmitted strictly through mosquitoes. Most mosquitoes do not carry the virus.

As part of their ongoing response efforts, CDPH will continue to collect mosquitoes from traps located throughout the city and test these mosquitoes for West Nile Virus. Using results of these tests, CDPH will determine the appropriate steps to be taken in order to best protect Chicago residents.

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