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Letters to the Press: For the Week of Sept. 2 – Sept. 8

Prefers Chemical Spray to West Nile

Dear Editor:

I believe your article about West Nile Virus (WNV) [“Mosquito Madness,” Aug. 26] and aerial spraying was poorly researched and has an unfortunate slant to it. You minimized the WNV threat because of viral transmission fallacies and imply that most control methods are worse than the disease. You base your criticism on the “fact” that at the time of publication, only five people had become infected in Nassau and Suffolk, and thus imply control methods are overkill. The problem is you published the article too soon; the fact is that prime infection season is late summer and fall, not just late summer, and since publication, just days later, 15 more people in just Nassau have been confirmed infected. Your paper minimized the threat too soon.


In Nassau County, the viral cycling level this year is the worst ever. Nassau is now permanently infested with WNV, just like Suffolk. The only reason infection rates are not any higher is because of extensive chemical larvaciding and suppression.

The problem is that with all the larval control Nassau does, WNV still can break containment late in the summer, and spread from isolated pools into the general mosquito populations, as it has done two out of the last three years, and cause increased disease spikes despite limited transmission efficacy. It seems your writers forgot all about 2008, when four people died of WNV in Nassau after containment broke.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and the New York State Department of Health all recommend or allow aerial adulticiding as a last ditch control method in such breakout situations. Given the record amount of identified disease pools and realistic threat of breakout in August, Nassau sprayed. This was not government bumbling as your article implies, but an emergency measure to protect public health, wherein the small cancer risks are weighed against a clear and present danger.

By the way, I find it curious that no one mentioned the results of aerial control mosquitoes, before they attacked it. Aerial control is the best way to quickly and efficiently knock back a disease outbreak when that outbreak is geographically widespread as in Nassau. Suffolk usually does smaller sprays and earlier, but has not faced the same recent conditions as Nassau has in 2008 and 2010.


Michael Kaufman, St. James

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