Marine Park

Aerial spraying for West Nile virus begins Thursday in Brooklyn

June 17, 2019 Mary Frost
VectoBac GS, a biological larvicide, will be sprayed over wetlands in Brooklyn and other boroughs by the New York City Department of Health starting Thursday to kill the mosquitoes that cause West Nile virus. AP photo by Mark Lennihan

New York City will begin three days of aerial spraying for mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus at marshes and wetlands in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island on Thursday, weather permitting.

A low-flying helicopter will spray larvicide over Marine Park and Fresh Creek Basin. ZIP codes where spraying will take place include 11229, 11234, 11207, 11236 and 11239.

“During the summer season, New Yorkers take full advantage of the outdoors and we want to make sure that they remain safe of mosquito-borne diseases,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a statement.

Barbot said the aerial larvicide is safe and effective. The Health Department will be spraying VectoBac GS, which contains naturally occurring bacteria and has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The city Health Department regularly monitors mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus. No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported this season. Last summer, mosquitoes were detected in Brooklyn pools 182 times.

The most effective way to control mosquitoes is to eliminate any standing water, the Health Department says. During warm weather, mosquitoes can breed in any still water that has been standing for more than five days.

While most people infected with West Nile suffer no long-term damage, about 20 percent come down with either West Nile Fever or more severe “neuroinvasive” effects, ranging from headache or neck stiffness to convulsions, encephalitis, meningitis or death.

Thirty people citywide suffered from neuroinvasive effects last year, with six in Brooklyn, according to the Health Department. Six people across the city came down with West Nile Fever, including one in Brooklyn.

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Queens had the greatest number of mosquitoes detected carrying the virus. In 2018, 15 residents of Queens came down with neuroinvasive disease, and three with West Nile Fever.

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