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Local Health Officials Take Aim At Mosquitoes



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Local Health Officials Take Aim At Mosquitoes

Local officials urged residents this week to take precautions against the possibility of West Nile Virus by eliminating areas of standing water around their houses and limiting exposure to mosquitoes.

Officials also said they would begin placing biological larvicides in catch basins within the town’s roadways to kill mosquitoes before the insects reach the adult, biting stage.

First Selectman Herb Rosenthal and Mark A.R. Cooper, director of the Newtown Health District, issued a joint statement urging residents to take steps to protect themselves. The steps are a precaution, they stressed. No mosquitoes trapped in Newtown have tested positive for the virus which last year sickened and killed people in the New York City area. There has been no finding of infected birds in the Newtown area, nor have any humans been infected.

“Protecting the public health is our number one priority and we are continuing our exhaustive surveillance efforts to identify any signs of West Nile Virus in Newtown,” the officials said. “We urge all Newtowners to help mosquito-proof their neighborhoods by removing all sources of standing water around their homes where mosquitoes may breed. We also want to remind [residents] to take precautions to limit exposure to mosquitoes by wearing protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks if outside during evening, nighttime, and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, and by considering the use of insect repellant containing 10 percent or less of DEET for children and no more than 30 percent DEET for adults.”

Mr Rosenthal asked residents to continue to prevent mosquitoes throughout the season by eliminating areas of standing water around their homes:

•Make sure roof gutters drain properly.

•Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar containers that can hold stagnant water.

•Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs. If not in use, keep empty and covered.

•Drain water from pool covers.

•Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.

•Eliminate any standing water that collects on the property.

•Change water in birdbaths once a week.

•Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their properties.

•Mr Cooper advised residents to take precautions against mosquitoes including:

•If outside during the evening, night, and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, children and adults should wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks.

•Consider the use of an insect repellant containing DEET. Use DEET according to manufacturer’s directions.

•Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

The Health District is working in conjunction with the State Department of Environmental Protection, the State Department of Health, area veterinarians and local residents in a number of surveillance programs. The programs include mosquito traps located in swampy areas of town, picking up and testing dead birds reported to the Health District by residents, and working closely with veterinarians to identify potential cases in pets and animals.

When the rain ends this week, officials plan to put the biological larvicide Bactillus thuringiensis var. israelenis into catch basins throughout the town. The larvicide is a bacterial spore (Bti) which, when eaten by the filter-feeding mosquito larvae, kills it. Bti is a naturally occurring bacteria found throughout the world and is non-toxic to humans and other animals, Mr Cooper said.

For information about the West Nile virus or to report dead birds, residents may call the health district at 270-4291. More information is also included on the district’s Web site at http://home.earthlink.net/~newtownhd.

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