Sussex County Man Tests Positive for West Nile Virus

DOVER – The Division of Public Health (DPH) is announcing that a 60-year-old Sussex County man has tested positive for the state’s first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in 2018. The man was briefly hospitalized for illness in July and after a preliminary positive test result from the DPH Laboratory in Smyrna, the blood sample was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing. WNV, a mosquito-borne illness, can become serious, and DPH reminds people to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. In 2017, one case of WNV was confirmed in a Kent County woman, the first such case in two years in Delaware.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Mosquito Control Section has seen an increase of WNV found in wild birds and sentinel chickens. The first case of WNV in birds this year was detected in late June in a wild crow collected in Sussex County by DNREC’s Mosquito Control section. WNV-positive sentinel chickens have been found at 10 of the 20 Mosquito Control Section sentinel chicken stations around the state, with virus-positive stations now in all three counties, and 13 WNV-positive wild birds have also been collected from all three counties. The increase in WNV detection in birds is occurring at about twice the normal rate, according to DNREC Mosquito Control officials.

“With the appearance of this disease in a person, along with an accompanying increase of West Nile Virus in wild birds, we want to urge everyone to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquito bites. These bites can cause much more serious health problems than just itching and discomfort,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “This is an early start to the transmission season for West Nile Virus, and it is concerning that we could see more cases this year in humans than in past years.”

WNV and EEE are transmitted by mosquitoes, generally in summer and fall, with a peak period for disease transmissions from mid-August to mid-October. Although nearly 80 percent of people infected with WNV will not become ill, and only a little less than 20 percent of those infected will develop West Nile fever, with mild symptoms (fever, headache, body aches, a skin rash on the chest or back and swollen lymph glands), one in 150 people infected will develop severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis).

Symptoms of severe WNV infection include headache, high fever, stiff neck, and/or tremors and muscle weakness. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk. Anyone who experiences any of these severe symptoms should seek medical help immediately. Symptoms may progress to stupor, disorientation, coma, convulsions, paralysis, and possibly death.

WNV is primarily transmitted to humans by the common house mosquito, while the Asian tiger mosquito can also carry the disease. Mosquitoes in Delaware can also carry viruses that may result in death, including Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), which can cause brain inflammation and be fatal to humans and horses, and dengue virus.

Earlier this month, DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section found Delaware’s first EEE-positive sentinel chicken for 2018 in a station in Sussex County. Like WNV, EEE can adversely affect both humans and horses – EEE is more severe than WNV, but fortunately much rarer. Heightened concerns over possible transmission to humans from both viruses, will continue into mid-October, until cooler temperatures start to significantly slow down both mosquito and virus activity.

Other mosquito-borne diseases that could occur in Delaware include chikungunya, which while rarely fatal, may result in severe and debilitating symptoms, including fever and joint pain, and Zika. The most common symptoms of Zika are rash, fever, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The largest health impact of the Zika virus appears to be on infants whose mothers were infected during pregnancy. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age, as well as other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. To date, no cases of Zika in the state have been linked with local mosquito or human transmission.

DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section dealt with a statewide eruption of adult mosquitoes from late May through the end of June, occurring primarily in inland areas and caused by heavy rainfall. For the past two weeks the agency has faced another onslaught of adult mosquitoes in coastal areas attributable largely to tidal flooding and rains. To help the Section combat swarming numbers of mosquitoes this year, and to reduce mosquito-breeding habitat for mosquitoes that can transmit WNV, DNREC urges homeowners to practice good water sanitation on their property by eliminating standing water, particularly as might be collected in buckets, containers, uncovered trash cans, stagnant bird baths, old tires, and unused swimming pools.

To avoid mosquito bites and reduce the risk of infection, individuals should also:
• When outside, wear shoes, light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants. Mosquito netting can protect one’s face and neck, and infants in carriages, strollers, and playpens. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and during the early-morning hours.
• Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for reapplication times.
• Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
• Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, or on cut or irritated skin. Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to the child’s face.
• Prevent mosquitoes from entering the house by using screens and keeping windows and doorways tightly sealed.

While there are no vaccines against WNV or EEE for humans, effective EEE and West Nile vaccines are available for horses through veterinarians, according to the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s State Veterinarian’s Office. Both WNV and EEE cause severe, and sometimes fatal, infections in horses. Signs of infection in horses include fever (although not always with WNV), anorexia, head pressing, depression or personality change, wobbling or staggering, weakness, blindness, convulsions, muscle spasms in the head and neck, or hind-limb weakness. If owners notice any of these signs in their horses, they should contact their veterinarian immediately.

To report suspected cases of human WNV, call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 888-295-5156.

For more information about:
• Mosquito biology/ecology and control – Contact the Mosquito Control Section’s Dover office at 302-739-9917.
• Reporting WNV-suspect wild birds, or for requests for mosquito relief – For upstate areas from Dover north, contact Mosquito Control’s Glasgow field office at 302-836-2555; for downstate areas south of Dover, contact Mosquito Control’s Milford field office at 302-422-1512.
• WNV or EEE in horses and equine vaccines – Contact the Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only).
• For more information on West Nile virus or Eastern equine encephalitis – Visit the CDC website, www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Multi-agency approach helps DDA and DNREC protect pollinators in Delaware

DOVER, Del. – Farmers throughout Delaware depend on both honeybees and native bees to pollinate their crops each year. It takes nearly 300 million honeybees to successfully pollinate these crops, which bring more than $38.7 million to the state’s economy.

“The health of pollinators within Delaware is extremely important to the success of our family farms,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “From early spring all the way through late summer, bees are pollinating crops that Delawareans love to eat – strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupes, cucumbers, apples, squash, cranberries, and pumpkins. Our staff works throughout the year to ensure the safety of bees and to help increase the number of healthy colonies within the state.”

In 2016, the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) released

The Delaware Department of Agriculture maintains bee hives for education and demonstration purposes.

Delaware’s Managed Pollinator Protection Plan that outlines strategies, best practices, and resources that beekeepers, farmers, landowners, and pesticide applicators can use to help protect and enhance bees and other pollinators. In conjunction with the release of this plan, the Department’s Plant Industries section secured a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant to engage Delaware fruit and vegetable growers and beekeepers in the implementation of the plan to improve the availability and quality of bee forage and to decrease the bees’ risk of pesticide exposure. Both efforts combined to improve the health and vitality of bees, which in turn enhance pollination of crops and also enable increased production of local honey.

“One of the key best management practices that we learned in talking with all the groups involved in developing the pollinator protection plan is communication,” said Laura Mensch, DDA Hydrologist III. “We invested in DriftWatch so that pesticide applicators could check where beekeepers have their hives located before spraying – either on the ground or by aerial application. We are excited to see the recent release of the mobile DriftWatch apps, increasing the potential use and benefit of the tool.” In April 2018, FieldWatch launched two free mobile apps (both Android and iOS) called FieldCheck and BeeCheck. The goal is to make it easier for users to access the DriftWatch map while they are on the go. These new apps will allow more users, especially applicators, to access the specialty crop and beehive data on a highly functional mobile platform.

DDA asks beekeepers to register with BeeCheck so that pesticide applicators know where hives are located when they head out to spray. According to DDA State Apiarist Meghan McConnell, there are 289 registered beekeepers with 5,934 colonies in-state for 2018, but there are only 77 beekeepers registered with BeeCheck. One of those pesticide applicators is the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Delaware Mosquito Control Section. For public awareness, including beekeepers, the Mosquito Control Section implemented a Spray Zone Notification (SZN) System, enabling a registered user to receive an alert via text, phone, or email of upcoming spray activities. Recently, two beekeepers expressed concerns regarding mosquito control aerial spraying in Sussex County and alleged impacts to the health of honeybees used for pollination there. Neither had registered with the Spray Zone Notification System.

The Mosquito Control Section’s primary work is preventing mosquito-borne diseases in humans, domestic livestock, and pets, and helping promote and maintain good quality-of-life for Delawareans and visitors, while also lessening adverse impacts to local economies that severe mosquito infestations can cause. Nineteen of the 57 mosquito species found in Delaware are known to bite humans and several can transmit mosquito-borne diseases such as Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. In particular, the native common house mosquito is primarily a nighttime biter but is also active around dawn and dusk, and is the primary transmitter for West Nile virus in Delaware.

Eliminating breeding habitat is the best means of controlling several types of mosquitoes, but control of other species that can also transmit disease or severely affect quality-of-life often relies on timely insecticide treatments for larval or adult mosquito stages. Therefore, the Mosquito Control Section flies over areas that could become mosquito-infested, applying larvicides to water bodies as a preventive measure and adulticides if an area is already infested, and spraying only by adhering to strict protocols for public health and safety including use only of EPA-approved pesticides.

In collaboration with DDA on the Delaware Managed Pollinator Protection Plan, DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section updated standard operating procedures (SOPs) when treatments are needed around honeybees or their hives. More information on DNREC’s rationale behind their work with bees is available online.

DNREC utilizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM), employing wherever practicable non-insecticidal, source reduction measures such as water management or fish-stocking for larval mosquito control. If source reduction cannot be used or is ineffective, larvicide spraying for mosquito control is used – but such spraying does not have potential for conflicts with pollinating activities, since larvicides are applied primarily in marshes or wet woodlands, and do not have modes of action that would adversely affect honeybees.

As a last option, if larviciding cannot be done or has proven ineffective, DNREC’s Mosquito Control utilizes adulticides applied by aircraft or via truck-mounted sprayers. Aerial applications occur during late evening or early morning, for more effective mosquito control and also to minimize adverse impacts to honeybees, since they are less active or already back in their hives. Ground application of adulticides by truck-mounted sprayers (“fogging”) almost always occurs at night when honeybees are in the hive.

“The Delaware Beekeepers Association (DBA), along with Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) share a common goal – to maintain a healthy population of managed honeybee colonies in Delaware,” said DBA Secretary Rebecca Rendeiro. Aerial spraying for mosquitoes is complex, and while it does not affect every beekeeper, it is important that that there are measures in place to help protect bees to decrease the chance of a colony loss due to pesticide application, while at the same time still enabling adequate mosquito control.

Also, Delaware Department of Agriculture’s pesticide inspectors work in each county to ensure pesticides are properly applied. “Our inspectors conduct announced and unannounced visits throughout the state, including inspections of DNREC’s Mosquito Control applicators,” said DDA Pesticide Administrator Christopher Wade. “We make sure that applicators are using the product properly and safely according to the label specifications in order to protect the health of the public and pollinators.”

If beekeepers suspect that their colonies have been affected by pesticides, they can file a complaint with the Department of Agriculture. In the past year, three complaints were filed and investigated, all crop-related and none involving Mosquito Control spraying. Wade said, “We take a team approach to our investigation since we now have Meghan (McConnell, State Apiarist) on staff. Our inspectors collect samples for pesticide analysis and Meghan looks at the health of the colony and can determine if there are any other health concerns for the bees. It’s helpful for the beekeeper to have their colonies inspected.” In one instance, a notice of warning was issued to the applicator and the grower to be mindful of label directions, and an advisory was issued to the beekeeper for not alerting the grower that hives were on the premises.

Similarly, after decades of Mosquito Control adulticiding, reports of suspected damages to honeybees or hives from such treatments are few. “When we look at bee health and the number one loss for colonies in Delaware, it’s not pesticides,” said State Apiarist McConnell. “Delaware has been fighting Varroa mites since 1994 and Small Hive Beetle since 2001. When we look at colony loss in Delaware, the majority is caused by Varroa mites and the viruses transmitted by them. Bees will not survive the winter, even with enough honey stores, if there are viruses and diseases present.”

Collaboration between state agencies and beekeepers is the key to keeping honeybees safe. DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section has implemented tools to assist beekeepers and to help keep the public informed in advance of mosquito control spray activities. Beekeepers (and members of the public) can sign up for the Mosquito Control Spray Zone Notification System, a two-step process that allows a user to select their spray zone area of interest and then register to receive an alert via text, phone, or email of upcoming spray activity in that area. If beekeepers have concerns on where or when spraying is scheduled to take place relative to beehive locations or honeybee foraging areas, they should contact the Mosquito Control Section to express their concerns.

As a pesticide applicator, DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section also has the ability to check the FieldCheck and BeeCheck apps, and plan spray operations to the extent practicable around data taken from those apps. But if beekeepers have not registered with Mosquito Control’s spray notification system, or if their beehive locations are not kept up to date in FieldCheck and BeeCheck, DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section will not know that hives are located in an area when spraying there for mosquitoes.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture, DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section and the Delaware Beekeepers Association urge anyone who keeps bees in Delaware to register their bee hives and sign up for all the apps that are available that can help protect the state’s valuable pollinators.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, 302-698-4542, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov


DPH Launches Lyme Disease Awareness Campaign

DOVER — While many Delawareans couldn’t be happier to see spring’s arrival and winter’s departure, the Division of Public Health (DPH) is warning residents that with warm weather comes ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and increased chances of vector-borne diseases. Whether staying home or traveling in the coming months, DPH wants to remind Delawareans of the risk of these diseases, which include Lyme disease, Zika, and West Nile Virus, and to share prevention tips.

“While we want everyone to get outside and enjoy the weather, taking advantage of additional opportunities for family time and exercise, we also hope each person takes the proper precautions to protect themselves and others, especially children, as well as pets from the diseases that can potentially come with insect bites,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.

According to data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, Delaware reported 545 cases of tick borne diseases and 35 cases of mosquito borne diseases. The CDC listed Lyme disease as the state’s top tick borne disease, accounting for 93 percent (506) of the cases. DPH recently finalized its 2017 data and is reporting 608 cases of Lyme disease last year, an increase of more than 100 cases since 2016. The CDC believes that the actual number of Lyme disease cases nationwide is 10 times higher than what is reported to doctors or state and county health departments.

Since May is also Lyme Disease Awareness Month, DPH has launched a campaign titled, “BLAST Lyme disease,” which was adapted with permission from the Ridgefield, Connecticut, BLAST Program. The “BLAST” acronym is a simple way to remember five simple steps you can take to protect yourself, family, and pets from Lyme disease:
• Bathe or shower within two hours of coming indoors.
• Look for ticks on your body and remove them.
• Apply repellent to your body and clothes.
• Spray your yard.
• Treat your pet.

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States with approximately 20,000 new cases reported each year. It is frequently characterized by an expanding red rash, commonly referred to as a “bull’s eye rash.” Rashes can occur anywhere on the body and vary in size and shape. The rash can be warm to the touch, but usually not painful or itchy. Not all patients will develop the characteristic rash. Other symptoms include fever and or chills, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and headaches. Untreated infections can lead to symptoms including severe joint pain and swelling (usually large joints, particularly the knees), loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face (called “Bell’s palsy”), heart palpitations and dizziness, severe headaches and neck stiffness due to meningitis, and neurological problems (i.e., numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, problems with concentration and short-term memory).

The BLAST campaign will run through the summer and early fall months and includes advertisements on Facebook, several local websites, and Spanish-language publications. DPH has also updated its website to include fun activities for children to learn about Lyme disease called “Kids Korner,” and has detailed instructions for tick removal. To see these features and learn more about Lyme disease, visit de.gov/lyme.

Additionally, education packets have been sent to all public, private and charter schools, public libraries, and licensed summer camps. DPH is also mailing materials to pediatricians and family practice providers, coordinating with DNREC on outreach to state parks and providing email communications to community partners.

All of Delaware’s reported mosquito-borne diseases last year were travel-related and not spread through the bite of a mosquito locally. The CDC reported Delaware’s top mosquito-borne disease in 2016 as Zika (17 cases). Malaria accounted for another 16 cases, and Dengue for the last two.

Although Delaware has not had a reported Zika case since 2016, the disease still poses a threat, particularly to those traveling abroad and those who are, or may become, pregnant. Zika is a disease caused by a virus primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Most people who are infected with Zika do not develop symptoms. About one in five people infected with the virus develop the disease and symptoms are generally mild. Anyone who lives or travels in the impacted areas can be infected.

Zika symptoms, typically include rash, fever, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The largest health impact of the Zika virus appears to be on infants whose mother was infected during pregnancy. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age, as well as other poor pregnancy outcomes. To learn about Zika risks and how to protect yourself from Zika, visit de.gov/zika.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Fight the Bite: Stop Tick and Mosquito-Borne Diseases

DOVER – One of the best things about summer weather is more time outside. The Division of Public Health (DPH) urges people to get active and enjoy the outdoors in support of a healthy lifestyle.  The Division also reminds Delawareans to protect themselves from tick and mosquito bites before heading outside. Tick and mosquito bites can cause serious illnesses, and a few small steps, such as using insect repellent, can make a big difference.

In Delaware, the most common tick-borne disease is Lyme disease, which is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected deer ticks. Preliminary data for 2016 indicates there were 506 Lyme disease cases in Delaware.

Symptoms of Lyme disease can include a “bull’s-eye” rash (seen in approximately half of Lyme disease cases in Delaware), fever, fatigue, headache, and muscle and joint aches. Chronic joint, heart, and neurological problems may occur. It usually takes 24-36 hours of attachment before a tick transmits a disease. Anyone bitten by a tick should monitor their health closely, and contact a physician if symptoms develop.

While the attention in the last year has been on the connection between mosquitoes and Zika virus, mosquitoes can also carry West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and several other diseases that cause brain inflammation (encephalitis) and can be fatal to humans and animals. Infected mosquitoes transmit these diseases through their bites.

Approximately 80 percent of human WNV infections are mild and cause no apparent symptoms. The other 20 percent develop a mild illness (West Nile fever), which includes fever, body and muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, and a rash. A small percentage of patients, usually the elderly, develop severe neurological disease that results in meningitis or encephalitis.

DPH recommends these precautions to protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes

TICK PREVENTION

  • Avoid walking in wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, as this is where ticks are most commonly found.
  • Walk in the center of hiking trails, not on the side.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to allow you to see ticks easily.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants, and tuck pant legs into socks.
  • Apply tick repellents. Repellents containing permethrin can be sprayed on boots and clothing and will last for several days. Repellents containing DEET can be applied to the skin but will last only a few hours before reapplication is necessary. Use insect repellent containing less than 50 percent DEET for adults. Use repellent containing less than 30 percent DEET on children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents with DEET should not be used on infants less than two months old.
  • After being outdoors, check for ticks on yourself and your children (especially the head area), and pets, which should be treated with tick and flea preventive products. Ticks can ride home on pets, then attach to a person later.

TICK REMOVAL

  • Avoid removing ticks with bare hands to prevent the tick’s fluids from getting on your skin. Use fine-tipped tweezers, shielding fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or rubber gloves.
  • Grasp the tick close to the skin surface and pull upward steadily and evenly.
  • Dispose of the tick by flushing it. Cleanse the site of the tick bite with an antiseptic or soap and water, and wash your hands.

MOSQUITO PREVENTION

  • When outside, wear shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and pants.
  • Use mosquito netting to protect infants and young children in carriages, strollers, and playpens. Netting can protect one’s face and neck during long hikes. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and during the early morning hours. However, mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are also active daytime biters.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents:
    • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for reapplication times.
    • Use insect repellent containing less than 50 percent DEET for adults.
    • Use repellent containing less than 30 percent DEET on children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using insect repellents containing 10 percent DEET.
    • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, or on cut or irritated skin. Adults: spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to the child’s face.
    • AAP also recommends that repellents with DEET should not be used on infants less than two months old.
  • Prevent mosquitoes from entering the house by using screens and keeping windows and doorways tightly sealed. Mosquitoes prefer shallow water and tall vegetation. Eliminate standing water in your yard by changing birdbath water every four days, regularly draining pet dishes and plant pot saucers, and checking gutters, pool covers, and tarps for standing water. Store buckets, wheelbarrows, and wading pools upside down. Keep grass mowed.

For more information, visit cdc.gov and dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/epi/lyme.html.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH.  The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


2013 Mosquito Control season begins this week with spraying wooded wetlands

DOVER (April 3, 2013) – Weather permitting, DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section has started its annual spring woodland-pool spraying this week, treating wooded wetlands for control of immature (larval) mosquitoes near populated areas in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties. Approximately 5,000 to 8,000 acres with woodland pools where early season mosquitoes breed in quantity will be strategically larvicided by helicopter, and possibly fixed-wing aircraft. 

If larval stages of these early season mosquitoes are not successfully controlled, an intolerable number of biting adult mosquitoes could take wing by early to mid-May and remain through late June, becoming particularly troublesome within one to two miles of their woodland pool origins, significantly affecting local quality of life for residents and visitors alike, said Mosquito Control Administrator Dr. William Meredith. As in past years, only woodland pools near populated areas will be treated. 

“Delaware has about 100,000 acres of wet woodlands in the spring, and it’s not possible logistically or for budgetary reasons to larvicide all woodland mosquito-rearing habitats. Additionally, not all of these wet woodlands contain pool habitats suitable for producing large numbers of mosquitoes,” said Dr. Meredith. “Targeting woodland pools that are good habitats for mosquito larvae near populated areas is the best return on investment in providing mosquito relief to the most people.” 

Over the next few weeks, Mosquito Control will apply a bacterially-produced insecticide, Bti, for larval mosquito control. “Like all insecticides used by the Mosquito Control Section, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that Bti, when used in accordance with all EPA-approved instructions as required by federal law, can be applied without posing unreasonable risk to human health, wildlife or the environment,” said Dr. Meredith. 

The amount of spraying needed is determined by where and how wet the woodlands are, which can vary from year to year depending on the location and amount of precipitation that has occurred over the past autumn, winter and early spring. At present, with the exception of some wetter areas in Sussex County, woodland pool acreage is below normal statewide, and larval densities also appear a bit lower than normal. Relatively cool weather this spring is also slowing larval growth progression. These factors can be favorable for effectively treating in timely manner woodland pool mosquito production during early spring. However, all of this can quickly change, depending upon rainfall amounts and temperatures over the next few weeks. 

Aerial spraying of woodland pools must be completed before the forest canopy fills in with foliage, usually around mid-April, because leaves prevent the insecticide from reaching pools and other wet spots containing larvae on the forest floor. The spring campaign marks the beginning of Delaware’s mosquito season, which in most years continues until sometime between mid-October and early November, depending upon when the first killing frost occurs. Throughout the rest of the year, mosquito control needs expand to include saltmarsh mosquito control, treatment of myriad types of freshwater habitats to control other species of freshwater mosquitoes, and control of mosquitoes in urban or developed areas that are produced in standing water or container habitats.

 As in the past, advance public notice of when and where spraying will occur this year will be given daily via radio announcements, by calling 800-338-8181 toll-free, or by visiting Mosquito Control’s website at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Services/Pages/MosquitoSection.aspx and clicking “Mosquito Spraying Announcements.” Interested parties may also subscribe to receive email notices by visiting DNREC’s homepage, clicking on “Email List Subscription” under Services and following directions to sign up for mosquito control spray announcements.

During mosquito season, the public is encouraged to do its part to reduce mosquito-rearing habitat by cleaning clogged rain gutters, keeping fresh water in birdbaths, draining abandoned swimming pools and emptying standing water from such containers as scrap tires, cans, flower pot liners, unused water cisterns, upright wheelbarrows, uncovered trash cans, depressions in tarps covering boats or other objects stored outside.

To request local relief, call Mosquito Control’s field offices:

  • Glasgow Office, 302-836-2555, serving New Castle County and the northern half of Kent County including Dover
  • Milford Office, 302-422-1512, serving the southern half of Kent County south of Dover and all of Sussex County.

For more information about Delaware’s Mosquito Control program, call the Dover office at 302-739-9917. 

The Delaware Mosquito Control Section provides statewide services to more than 880,000 residents and more than 2 million visitors annually to maintain quality of life and protect public health by reducing the possibility of mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus. Throughout the warmer months, Mosquito Control monitors and treats mosquito populations that emerge from wetland areas found throughout the state, including ditches, stormwater ponds, wet woodlands and coastal salt marshes. The Section also works year-round on water and marsh management projects designed to reduce mosquito populations, and provides the public with information on dealing with mosquitoes, from reducing backyard mosquito breeding to avoiding mosquito bites.

 Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902. 

 

Vol. 43, No. 124

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