Been getting ask up while trying to enjoy a warm summer evening in the park? Hurray, aerial larviciding has arrived!
The city’s Health Department plans to spray larvicide from a low-flying helicopter over uninhabited marshy areas across the city for three days next week, in an effort to kill mosquito eggs and curb the spread of West Nile virus along with other mosquito-borne illnesses, the department announced.
The uninhabited marshlands targeted for spraying include parts of Marine Park and Fresh Creek Basin in Brooklyn; Alley Pond Park and Pillowa Park in Queens; Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx; and Fresh Kills and South Beach on Staten Island.
It’s an effort to stamp out the potential spread of West Nile virus which was detected in record-breaking quantities last summer, a phenomenon the city said likely had to do with the hotter, wetter weather.
That year the Health Department, which monitors traps around standing bodies of water, detected West Nile virus in mosquitoes swarming around 1,039 pools. In a typical season they’d find around 300 contaminated pools, the city said.
The spraying will run from Tuesday, June 21 to Thursday, June 23, between 6 am to 7 pm, weather permitting — with rain dates on Friday, June 24, Monday, June 27 and Tuesday, June 28.
At least nine New York City residents caught West Nile Virus last year: Four in the Bronx, two in Queens and one from each of the remaining boroughs, according to the Health Department.
Most people infected with the virus don’t experience any symptoms. One in five people, however, develop mild to moderate symptoms that could include fever, headache and body aches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most people’s symptoms resolve on their own, but a handful of people who contract the virus — one in 150 to be exact — experience more severe symptoms that could lead to coma, convulsions, vision loss, paralysis and even death. People over the age of 60, and those with underlying illnesses are also at greater risk for severe illness.
Deaths from West Nile virus in New York, though, are exceedingly rare. Just 37 people have died from it since it was first detected in the state in 1999, according to the state Health Department, which monitors for malaria as well as the West Nile, Zika and Eastern Equine Encephalitis viruses, among others.
To avoid mosquito bites altogether, the city recommends using insect repellent, making sure to clear standing bodies of water if you have them on your property, and keeping screens in your windows.
Studies suggest millions to billions more people across the globe will be at risk of contracting mosquito-borne illnesses in the coming decades due to climate change.