Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Thursday, May 3, 2001

Release #138-01

Contact: Sunny Mindel / Lynn Rasic
(212) 788-2958
View Mayor's
Press Conference
  Sandy Mullin / Greg Butler(DOH)
(212) 788-5290


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 Giuliani continued.

"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,

Mosquito Surveillance

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,

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,

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 providers. Additionally,

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,

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,

Rockaways, Queens Plan

Advance Notification of Pesticide Application

DOH will continue to provide advance notification in 2001 if spraying occurs. Additionally,

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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