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July 10, 2005

The Westchester County Department of Health has completed its application of larvicide briquettes to catch basins throughout the County, part of its effort to prevent the spread of the West Nile virus.

The application of larvicide -- which kills mosquito larvae -- to more than 51,000 catch basins in the county is part of County Executive Andy Spano's Operation Mosquito S.T.I.N.G. (Stop The Insects' Next Generation). Operation Mosquito S.T.I.N.G is a multi-level program designed to eradicate the mosquito population prior to its next lifecycle to avoid any future outbreaks of West Nile encephalitis.

On May 16th, certified technicians from the Westchester County Department of Health began applying briquettes of the larvicide Altosid XR (methoprene) into county, state and municipal catch basins. The program was completed last week.

In addition to the catch basins treated with larvicide, over 11,000 catch basins were evaluated but not treated for reasons such as the catch basin being void of a sump and having no place for water to collect; the sump of the entire catch basin being filled with sediment so water could not accumulate; or other similar factors that made the catch basin an unfit mosquito breeding ground.

"Although this program has been successfully completed, residents are still encouraged to take preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites and to help eliminate mosquito breeding grounds," stated Westchester Health Commissioner Joshua Lipsman, MD, MPH.

To help eliminate mosquito breeding grounds:

• Get rid of all water-holding containers, especially old tires, cans, buckets, drums, wheelbarrows and bottles.

• Cover outdoor trash containers to keep rainwater from accumulating inside.

• Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are left outdoors.
• Clean roof gutters and remove standing water from flat roofs.

• Drain water in birdbaths, plant pots and drip trays twice a week.

• Sweep driveways after it rains so that they are free of puddles.

To help avoid mosquito bites:

• Avoid being outdoors in places and during times where and when mosquitoes are active and feeding.

• Use insect repellents with no more than 30% DEET, but use them sparingly and with care. Select the lowest concentration effective for the amount of time spent outdoors. Products with concentrations around 10% are effective for periods of approximately two hours. A concentration of 24% has been shown to provide an average of five hours of protection. DEET should not be applied more than once a day. Products containing DEET are not recommended for use on children under 2 months of age. Carefully read and follow directions on the container and wash treated skin when mosquito exposure has ended.

• Wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks when outdoors in areas and at times where and when mosquitoes are active and feeding.

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

For additional information on larviciding and West Nile virus, call the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000 or visit


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