Thursday, May 21, 2009

Metro Changes Mosquito Policy


Nashville, TN – The Director of the Metro Public Health Department, Dr. William Paul, is talking about a fundamental shift in the way mosquitoes are handled in Davidson County. The sprayers won't be used unless there is a high risk of an imminent West Nile epidemic. The department will look at using more environmentally friendly ways to manage mosquitoes. Rachel Sumner of No Spray Nashville is pleased with this shift. “Our mayor wants our city to be known for being green so we need to examine how other cities have successfully managed mosquitoes with less toxic controls,” she said.

Sumner’s research into the Health Department’s mosquito trapping data from 2008 helped bring about this change in policy. She discovered that the spraying the department did in Antioch on five evenings last summer did not reduce mosquito populations or prevent more disease in mosquitoes. In one case, the Health Department’s records showed the mosquito population increased by 420% the day after spraying.

The records also revealed that department was sprayed for extremely low numbers of mosquitoes in a trap (an action that increases the possibility of creating resistant mosquitoes). The department also failed to use less toxic controls in the 3-week period before they began spraying. “If a neighborhood has a mosquito problem, you want to find where the mosquitoes are breeding. If you don’t you are fighting a losing battle,” says Sumner.

Sumner shared the results of her research with the City Council’s Health and Hospital Committee and with District 29’s Councilwoman, Vivian Wilhoite, who represents the Antioch neighborhood that was sprayed last summer. Wilhoite volunteered to meet with the Director of the Health Department, Dr. William Paul, to request that the department enhance their program and be more proactive. During the meetings, Paul acknowledged some of the weaknesses in the program and promised that improvements would be made or considered.

Dr. Paul states that as the department learned more, they became more comfortable with not spraying and that with the new threshold there would have to be extraordinary circumstance for spraying to occur. This is something that has not happened in the past.

“Councilwoman Wilhoite and I hope to meet with Dr. Paul in the next couple of weeks to discuss his new plan for mosquito management for our city. I hope it is strategic and takes full advantage of more effective and environmentally friendly approaches,” says Sumner.

The most effective method of mosquito control is to look for and reduce standing water. If you are having mosquito problems in your neighborhood and cannot find where mosquitoes are breeding, call the Health Department’s Pest Management office for assistance at 340-5668. They will send a staff member out to help.

BURNT's PO Box 128555, Nashville tn 37212
Citizens working together to bring science, ethics and responsible mosquito control to the Metro Public Health Department's Mosquito Control Program in Nashville.

No Spray Nashville an outreach of BURNT.
BURNT 501C organization and a member of Community Shares


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