June 8, 2011
The Risks That Harm People And The Risks That Alarm People Are Completely Different
This is in response to recent editorial by Robert Jaynes in The News-Herald and local issues of the Lake County Community News concerning the Lake County General Health District’s (LCGHD) mosquito control program. Readers are welcome to visit our web page www.lcghd.org where much information is available that explains the program, the materials that are used and the studies that have been conducted that support our activities. A few direct responses to some of his concerns are as follows:
1) In his editorial Mr. Jaynes makes the common mistake of misperceiving risk based upon unfamiliarity with the substances used to control mosquitoes. Substances such as nicotine, garlic, caffeine, aspirin, salt, and baking soda are all considered more toxic than the materials used for night spraying of mosquitoes. Less than 1/10 of one ounce of active ingredient is used per acre sprayed.
2) Our mosquito control program is designed to reduce (not eliminate) the number of both nuisance and disease carrying mosquitoes and has been in operation since the mid 1970’s.
3) True, Lake County has experienced 2 human West Nile Virus (WNV) cases since 2005 and 10 cases since 2002. This does not mean that the outbreak is over. WNV is endemic in the US, Ohio and Lake County and will never be totally eliminated. Ohio has experienced 715 human cases of WNV with 51 fatalities since the outbreak began in 2002. It is easy to say that this is a low number and a low risk until it is you or a family member that has been stricken. I would like Mr. Jaynes to tell the families of those 51 Ohio fatal WNV cases that mosquito control is unimportant.
4) The same larval control measures that Dr. Jaynes speaks of as being used in Shaker Heights are in use in Lake County.
5) Of the 76 individuals that signed Mr. Jaynes’ petition, only 5 have responded to us that they would like the spray to be turned off near their home.
6) According to several US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies:
a) The spraying of mosquito adulticides “does not result in substantial pesticide exposure to humans”.
b) “When administered properly in a mosquito-control program, insecticides pose a low risk for acute, temporary health effects among persons in areas that are being sprayed and among workers handling and applying insecticides.”
c) “Results from risk assessment and the current weight of scientific evidence indicate that human-health risks from residential exposure to mosquito insecticides are low and are not likely to exceed levels of concern. Further, the risks from WNV exceed the risks from exposure to mosquito insecticides.”
Both the CDC and the Ohio Dept. of Health (ODH) endorse and recommend local public health mosquito control programs that utilize integrated pest management principles. Our program accomplishes this through education, surveillance, larval and adult control. Our mosquito control program is inspected by ODA annually and all staff members are appropriately licensed by the ODA or serve under a licensed applicator.
Frank Kellogg, RS, MPH