State Entomologist: Howard County Mosquito Control 'Probably Not Adequate'
Howard County is not spraying for adult mosquitoes, despite the action of neighboring areas and the second confirmed Maryland fatality from West Nile Virus.
Howard County is not spraying for mosquitoes, and an entomologist for the state says the county's mosquito control efforts are not enough to protect the entire county.
Jeannine Dorothy, an entomologist for the Maryland Department of Agriculture, told Patch that Howard County only pays for preventative mosquito measures–called larviciding–in communities that request services. Larvicide is a type of insecticide that can be applied to small bodies of water to prevent mosquitoes larvae from developing, according to the MDA website.
"It probably is not adequate for the county," Dorothy told Patch. "We have a countywide program, but we respond to complaints and we go to communities that have asked us to come and larvacide, and where we know there are a lot of mosquitoes."
He says Howard County has a budget of $12,320 per year for larviciding efforts–just over $7,300 of that coming from the county and the rest from the state. Howard County has not participated in mosquito spraying for years, according to Cantwell.
Howard County government inquired with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, and health officials told the county that the areas currently spraying have "mounting evidence" of the virus, according to county spokesperson Alexandra Bresani.
"Per the Department [of Agriculture], there is currently no mounting evidence of the virus in Howard County," Bresani told Patch.
But, despite the fact that the United States has recorded 2,636 human cases of West Nile–the most since it showed up in the country in 1999–Cantwell says Maryland residents have no reason to be particularly fearful this year.
"Although we're having a record outbreak of West Nile Virus in the country, Maryland's numbers for 2012 haven't even gotten up to our highest year–which was 2003, when we had over 70 cases," Cantwell said.
Maryland totaled eight fatalities in 2003, according to CDC records.
Mosquitoes typically stop flying when colder temperatures set in, according to Cantwell, and the number of mosquito-related illnesses tend to reduce along with the season.
"As our day lengths shorten and we have an onset of cooler temperatures, our mosquito populations generally subside," Cantwell said. "Really, the end of the season is when we get that first good frost."
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to say Howard County government contacted the Maryland Department of Agriculture, not Department of Health.