Archives of the Mayor's Press Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: Thursday, May 3, 2001
||Sunny Mindel / Lynn Rasic
||Sandy Mullin / Greg Butler(DOH)
MAYOR GIULIANI ANNOUNCES CITY'S 2001 COMPREHENSIVE
WEST NILE VIRUS SURVEILLANCE, PREVENTION AND CONTROL PLAN
Larval Surveillance and Control Already Underway;
City To Treat Storm Drains Throughout the Summer Starting in mid- May;
Public is Asked to Report Dead Birds, and to Reduce Mosquito Breeding Sites
Public Education Campaign - "Mosquito Proof NYC" - Launched
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today unveiled New York City's comprehensive West
Nile virus (WNV) prevention and control plan for 2001. The plan is preventive
in orientation and emphasizes larviciding; reducing breeding sites; surveillance
of mosquitoes, birds, mammals and humans; and public education. The Mayor was
joined by NYC Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner
Neal L. Cohen, M.D.; Mayor's Office of Emergency
Management (OEM) Director Richard J. Sheirer; Parks
Commissioner Henry J. Stern; Sanitation (DOS)
Commissioner Kevin P. Farrell; and Environmental
Protection (DEP) Commissioner Joel A. Miele.
"In less than two years, New York City has developed a state-of-the-art
program to protect the City from West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases,"
Mayor Giuliani said. "Since the first appearance of West Nile virus here
in 1999, the Department of Health has worked closely with Federal, State, and
City agencies to effectively monitor and control this disease.
"This year, the City will continue and even enhance the preventive work
it carried out last year and will again emphasize the importance of breeding
site reduction and treating areas of standing water with larvicides. As the
weather gets warmer and the mosquito season gets underway, I am asking all New
Yorkers to eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites around their homes and
businesses. Unclogging roof gutters, emptying unused swimming pools, discarding
old tires, buckets and other containers that hold water, and changing bird baths
at least once a week, will significantly help the City's efforts," Mayor
"Starting this May, our early warning systems will be in place,"
Dr. Cohen said. "Similar to our successful surveillance efforts last year,
we will closely monitor West Nile viral activity in birds and mosquitoes, and
use these findings to guard against a possible human outbreak. In the event
of positive findings, our first line of defense will include more intensive
larviciding and other preventive efforts. We are hopeful that this tremendous
investment in prevention will lessen the need for adult mosquito control efforts."
The various components of the City's plan are as follows:
Prevention of Mosquito Breeding
DOH will collaborate with elected officials, other agencies and large property
owners to eliminate standing water in empty lots, tire piles and other containers.
This will be augmented by applying larvicide to potential breeding sites where
water cannot be eliminated, including waste water treatment plants, parks, sewers
and 150,000 catch basins across the city. A public information campaign will
urge residents to reduce breeding sites around homes and businesses, and to
report major potential mosquito breeding sites. Additionally,
- The identification of an infected bird or mosquito, or an increase in the
density of dead bird sightings, will trigger a "rapid response."
This will include intensively reducing larval habitats, and increasing larval
control to contain amplification of the virus before it impacts human health.
- The resolution adopted by the New York City Board of Health in 2000, making
water accumulations a public health nuisance subject to immediate abatement
and fines, will continue during the 2001 season.
- In July and August, a summer youth corps, comprised of 100 New York City
high school students, will work in neighborhoods in the 5 boroughs to distribute
information on West Nile virus and related activities.
- DEP will continue the use of larvae eating fish (Gambusia affinis) at waste
water treatment plants. 2001 surveillance has seen a significant reduction
in mosquito larvae at these plants.
DOH will monitor mosquitoes citywide by collecting mosquito larvae and adult
mosquitoes to determine their distribution, density and type. In 2001, DOH will
test adult mosquitoes collected in New York City for West Nile and related viruses
in its own laboratories. With testing taking place locally in 2001, the time
it will take to get results should be significantly reduced, allowing for more
rapid public notification and mosquito breeding reduction activities. Additionally,
- DOH will inspect known mosquito breeding sites weekly to determine the
presence of mosquito larvae.
- DOH will routinely trap mosquitoes at approximately 90 sites throughout
the 5 boroughs.
- To help determine a zone of potential local transmission and to guide interventions,
mosquito trapping will be expanded in areas where West Nile virus is detected
in mosquitoes, birds, other animals, and/or humans.
Bird and Mammal Surveillance
Animals will be monitored for infection and illness with a focus primarily
on dead birds, especially crows and bluejays. DOH also will monitor disease
among domestic animals, particularly horses. Veterinarians will be asked to
report animals with suspected neurological illnesses to DOH. Additionally,
- DOH will ask the public to report the number, location, and types of dead
birds via telephone (1-877-WNV-4NYC) or via the DOH Web site (nyc.gov/health).
Dead bird reports will be used as markers for possible West Nile virus activity.
- Birds which have died recently, will be retrieved if DOH can confirm the
location of the bird with the reporting party and can gain access for retrieval.
The public will be advised to safely discard birds that are not being retrieved
by the City. A sample of birds, especially crows and bluejays, that have died
within the 24 hours before reporting, will be submitted for testing in accordance
with NYSDEC and NYSDOH criteria.
Human Surveillance and Provider Education
Active monitoring for suspected cases of viral encephalitis will take place
in hospitals and laboratories citywide. A special edition of DOH's medical bulletin,
City Health Information, focusing on West Nile virus and the possible adverse
health effects of pesticide exposure, will be distributed to 45,000 health care
- DOH will request that physicians city-wide immediately report all
suspected cases of viral encephalitis and adult cases of viral meningitis and
submit appropriate laboratory samples to determine if the cause is a mosquito-borne
- From July to October, or sooner if West Nile viral activity is identified
in vector or non-human hosts, physicians at selected hospitals across the city
will be contacted weekly regarding potential cases of viral encephalitis and
- DOH's laboratory will conduct diagnostic testing for West Nile virus
and other mosquito-borne viral causes of encephalitis, such as St. Louis encephalitis,
along with dengue fever.
Public Education and Community Outreach
The DOH will continue its multi-media Mosquito-Proof NYC public education
campaign. This year, the campaign will include borough specific calls to action
(e.g., Mosquito-Proof Staten Island, the Bronx, etc). Campaign components will
include posters to be placed in buses, subways, billboards and sanitation trucks
as well as public education materials (in multiple languages) to be distributed
citywide; and radio and television public service announcements. Brochures and
fact sheets in several languages will be distributed to community-based organizations,
community boards, elected officials, schools, and many other organizations citywide.
The automated West Nile Virus Information Line (1-877-WNV-4NYC) will be regularly
updated. Starting in mid-May, live operators will be available weekdays from
8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Additionally,
- The public will also be informed about those who are at highest risk for
serious illness due to West Nile virus infection (those 50 and over), and
relative to this risk, will be informed about the personal protective measures
that can be taken to avoid mosquito bites, such as ensuring doors and windows
have tight-fitting screens, wearing protective clothing (long pants, long-sleeved
shirts, and socks) and using insect repellents with strict adherence to manufacturer's
- The public will be advised to eliminate standing water sites where mosquitoes
can breed by removing tires, buckets, and other water-holding objects from
their property. They will also be urged to change the water in bird baths
every 3 to 4 days; to clean and chlorinate swimming pools or drain and cover
if not in use; to prevent water from accumulating in pool covers; to unclog
gutters and downspouts; or to use Mosquito Dunk® to prevent mosquito breeding.
The public will be asked to help eliminate mosquito breeding sites and to
report standing water using a telephone information line (1-877-WNV-4NYC)
and via DOH's Web site (nyc.gov/health).
- The public will be informed about the importance of reporting dead birds
to DOH for surveillance purposes although it will also be made clear that
the City will not pick up all dead birds that are reported. Information about
the species being prioritized for testing, how to properly dispose of birds
not being retrieved by the City, and the potential association between high
density of dead birds (especially crows) and the potential risk for West Nile
virus will be disseminated. DOH's Web site (nyc.gov/health) will be regularly
updated and include tools that the public can use for reporting dead birds
or standing water.
- In the event of significant human disease risk that may require the application
of pesticides to control adult mosquitoes, accurate and timely information
about mosquito control activities will be provided. DOH will provide information
about application scheduling, the type of pesticides being used and how to
reduce exposure. Additionally, the public will be informed about what to do
in the event of adverse reactions to pesticide.
- Special outreach will be conducted to City agencies, elected officials,
community boards, the Board of Education, nursing homes, elder care facilities,
libraries, outdoor activity sites, associations of green grocers, day camps,
and community organizations.
- A summer youth corps comprised of high school students, and a West Nile
virus Speakers Bureau comprised of DOH staff, will travel to communities to
disseminate information on West Nile virus and related activities.
Adult Mosquito Control
DOH will implement a phased response to surveillance findings that will expand
prevention and control activities in relation to the threat of an outbreak of
human disease. If surveillance indicators suggest that the level of West Nile
viral activity poses a significant threat to human health, the plan involves
considering the use of pesticides that kill adult mosquitoes. Because green
areas play a role in the amplification of the virus, they may be a priority
for spraying in high risk areas.
DOH also plans to control mosquitoes in the Rockaways, Queens, if necessary.
Products approved by the EPA and DEC would be applied by applicators meeting
EPA and DEC requirements. (Products currently registered for mosquito control
by EPA and DEC include the following active ingredients: resmethrin, sumithrin,
permethrin, naled, malathion and piperonyl butoxide). Spraying will be closely
monitored to ensure compliance with Federal and State guidelines. Additionally,
- The public will be notified of spray schedules in advance, which should
allow sufficient time to take any necessary precautions to reduce pesticide
- Hospitals will be notified of the spraying schedule and information on
the pesticide that will be used will be provided to physicians and other health-care
- For quality assurance purposes, a private contractor, independent of the
pesticide applicator, will assist DOH in assuring that the technical elements
of pesticide application are conducted according to plan and pursuant to applicable
- DOH will monitor and assess control activities for any potential environmental
and health effects through several measures, including pre- and post-spray
environmental sampling and montoring pesticide exposure complaints received
Rockaways, Queens Plan
- DOH will carry out strategic applications of adulticide when necessitated
by high numbers of mosquitoes in traps placed throughout the Rockaway peninsula;
and/or upon receipt of a pattern of complaints from the public that indicate
unacceptably high levels of mosquito biting activity, which can be subsequently
documented by DOH staff.
Advance Notification of Pesticide Application
DOH will continue to provide advance notification in 2001 if spraying occurs.
- DOH will distribute information on the potential health effects of
pesticide exposure to health care providers citywide in a special edition of
City Health Information, and will encourage them to report suspected pesticide-related
illnesses to the New York City Poison Control Center (212-POISONS or 212-764-7667)
and to the NYSDOH's Pesticide Poisoning Registry.
- DOH will use several sources of information (e.g., reports of pesticide
poisoning) that may be useful for monitoring any potential pesticide-related
- DOH will complete an environmental impact study of its mosquito control
plan. The study focuses on the potential impact of pesticide application on
human health, water quality, and natural resources.
Research and Evaluation
DOH, in collaboration with CDC and NYSDOH, has studied closely the risk factors
for infection, morbidity and mortality from West Nile virus and will conduct
research to better understand how West Nile and other mosquito-borne viruses
are maintained in our environment. Additionally, DOH is completing a comprehensive
environmental impact study on pesticides used for adult mosquito control. DOH
will continue to monitor potential health effects associated with the application
of, or direct exposure to, pesticides.
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