2002-06-08 / Community

West Nile Virus Prevention and Control Plan

West Nile Virus Prevention and Control Plan

West Nile Virus Prevention and Control Plan

This summer, the City is conducting a public education campaign regarding what New Yorkers can do to protect themselves and help control the West Nile virus.

This campaign will include posters, brochures, radio spots and a Public Health Youth Corps to promote the elimination of standing water around homes, the reporting of dead birds, and the need for personal protection measures, such as covering one’s skin between dusk and dawn.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Thomas Frieden announced New York City’s West Nile Virus (WNV) prevention and control plan and urged New Yorkers to protect themselves against mosquito bites during the summer.

"Each year, DOH’s program has been increasingly prevention oriented, with less reliance on pesticides," Commissioner Frieden said. "This progress has been made possible several innovations including state-of-the-art surveillance and laboratory testing. We can now pinpoint geographically viral activity in birds and mosquitoes before humans are infected and target prevention measures accordingly. And now that our laboratory is equipped to test mosquitoes and humans for the virus, we can turnaround test results more quickly, an advance that is critical to preventing further disease. These strides, combined with the public’s participation in prevention, has put New York City at the forefront of West Nile virus control efforts."

"In just three years since the introduction of West Nile virus into New York City, we have in place one of the most sophisticated monitoring and control programs in the world," said Mayor Bloomberg. "In 1999, when the virus was first discovered, there were four deaths; in 2000 there was one death; and in 2001 there were no deaths, and that’s the way we want to keep it. New Yorkers can help by reporting dead birds and significant areas of standing water, by removing objects that can contain standing water around their homes, and by taking personal measures to avoid mosquito bites."

"I want to assure New Yorkers that we at Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have taken all prudent environmentally sound steps to control mosquitoes at our facilities," said Commissioner Christopher O. Ward. "In addition to assisting DOH with the larviciding of catch basins, DEP has implemented two innovative programs at our wastewater treatment plants – the use of fish that eat mosquito larva and the installation of Mosquito Magnets, the latest technology that attracts and captures flying mosquitoes without harming beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, bees, butterflies and moths. And, we survey all of our facilities to ensure that there are no areas or equipment that can hold standing water where mosquitoes might breed."

To control the West Nile virus, DOH will again rely mainly on larval control (larviciding) and reducing areas of standing water. Beginning this month, larvicide is being applied to parks, pools, ponds, lakes, unused swimming pools, and wastewater treatment plants, and beginning in early June, will be applied to more than 135,000 catch basins citywide. Larvicide will be reapplied as needed throughout the mosquito-breeding season.

There are eleven things that New Yorkers can do around their homes to protect against West Nile Virus:

  1. Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace all screens that have tears or holes.
  2. Remove all discarded tires from your property.
  3. Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar water-holding containers.
  4. Make sure roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the spring or fall.
  5. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. If not in use, keep empty and covered.
  6. Drain water from pool covers.
  7. Change the water in birdbaths every 3 to 4 days.
  8. Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  9. Eliminate any standing water that collects on your property.
  10. Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their properties.
  11. Some local hardware stores may carry a product called Mosquito Dunk. If these products are purchased for home use, careful reading of the directions is recommended.

This year DOH will aggressively inspect and issue Notices of Violation for properties with significant areas of standing water that are deemed potentially harmful to public health. Report standing water to DOH at 1-(877)-WNV-4NYC or (1-877-968-4692).


Animals will be monitored for infection and illness, with a focus primarily on dead birds, especially crows, and domestic animals, particularly horses. Veterinarians are required to report any suspected animal cases with neurological illnesses to DOH. Dead bird reports are essential to analyze and track the location of the virus, and the public is urged to report dead birds to DOH at 1-(877)-WNV-4NYC (1-877-968-4692), http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/wnv/wnvbird.html.

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