Sewers treated to prevent West Nile Virus

August 26, 2011
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The Suffolk County Mosquito Control Project treated Jamaica Plain’s catch basins with pesticide last month in an effort to control the population of West Nile Virus (WNV)-carrying mosquitoes.

JP catch basins tested positive for WNV mosquito larvae this year. There have been no reported infections.

The pesticide Vectolex has been added to catch basins all over the city to kill young mosquitoes, said Bruce Landers, superintendent for the Suffolk County Mosquito Control Project. Landers added that certain neighborhoods, not including JP, have also been sprayed.

Catch basins are found under street drains and are a favorite breeding ground for mosquitoes.

According to Vectolex’s material safety data sheet (MSDA), the pesticide’s active ingredient is a naturally occurring bacterium that is common in soils. It does not use a toxic chemical.

MSDSs list chemicals’ and other materials’ possible hazardous effects. Vectolex’s MSDS states that Vectolex can cause mild eye and skin irritation with direct contact, but there are no known serious effects.

Since Vectolex was applied to JP’s catch basins, the likelihood of anyone coming in direct contact with the pesticide is very small.

“The public doesn’t have any contact with the product at all,” Landers said.

Vectolex’s bacteria work by disrupting the young mosquitoes’ guts, causing them to starve to death. Once the dead mosquitoes start decomposing in the catch basin, other young mosquitoes will eat the still-living bacteria and die in their turn.

WNV infections are rare and are usually not dangerous.

If a person develops symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, they should seek medical attention immediately.

For more information, call 617-534-5395 or email info@bphc.org or visit cdc.gov/westnile.

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