West Nile Virus Contingency Plan

August 10, 2015 09:16 AM



West Nile Virus is a strain of Encephalitis that has been present in Africa and the Middle East since the 1930’s. It was isolated and identified as a mosquito borne disease by a group of researchers who were studying something completely unrelated in the Western basin of the upper Nile Valley in Africa. When first discovered, research showed it to be a relatively localized problem. This changed in the mid 1960’s when an epidemic outbreak of the disease occurred in Israel. Further research revealed that birds (with the exception of Crows and Blue Jays) could carry the virus and not be affected by it, thus providing a medium to carry the disease out of the West Nile Valley.

In 1999, the virus made its way to the United States, more specifically New York City. Experts believe it most probably came across the Atlantic with mosquitoes that found their way onto the cargo holds of aircraft and ocean liners that were loaded in these infected areas of the world. Since then, it has been migrating its way west across the US. Two years ago it made its way to the Detroit area and last year, the virus was found in Indiana and as far west as Iowa. This is indicated by the presence of dead Crows and Blue Jays found and tested positive in these areas. These species are not immune to the effects of the virus and have a very high mortality rate when infected.

The presence of this virus in our area creates a possible need to “step-up” mosquito control efforts. Mosquitoes are the only known vector transferring the virus from infected birds to humans and horses. While it is unlikely for healthy people to contract the virus, statistics show elderly people and young people whose immune systems are weak or not yet fully developed may be susceptible to infection.

The Town of Schererville, acting as the agency responsible for mosquito control within our corporate limits, acknowledges the presence of the virus in our area. Several Town Employees have attended informational seminars offered by the Indiana State Department of Health as well as private corporate sources. These seminars have given us a comprehensive overview of what we will need to do should indicators (the presence of dead Crows and Blue Jays) become prevalent.

A. We will continue to administer our mosquito adulticide program as we have in the past. We will begin this program at the first sign that a brood hatching event has occurred this spring. Operating our Ultra Low Volume Spray (ULV) system has proven to be our most cost effective method of controlling the mosquito population and protecting the environment from the use of more toxic chemicals and more labor-intensive methods. We have approximately $12,000.00 budgeted for this annual operation plus the cost of 1 employee at about 20 hours per week.
B. We have informed our Animal Control Personnel of this situation and they are on alert for the signs that West Nile Virus is present and spreading. An open line of communication has been put in place for the transfer of information. The County Health Department has collected and provided testing for bird carcasses that are prone to be infected. This will be monitored closely.
C. The following plan will be executed should conditions warrant. The likelihood that spreading of this virus will escalate to an emergency level depends on the source of the information received. State Health Officials acknowledge the probability but are hesitant in issuing strong alerts and warnings while private industry experts take a stronger stand.

A. Emergency appropriation of approximately $25,000.00 to $30,000.00 will be necessary to finance the items listed below.
B. Informing the public:

  1. Issue press releases and/or direct mail information to the residents as to what we are doing to lessen the spread of the virus.
  2. Ask for help from the residents in eliminating “backyard breeding grounds” for mosquito larvae such as:
    • Dirty bird baths,
    • Old tires left outside and holding stagnant water,
    • House gutters not draining properly and holding stagnant water,
    • Unopened swimming pools containing dirty water.

C. Begin administering a comprehensive mosquito larvaeciding program to include:

  1. Chemical treatment of all storm water catch basins,
  2. Chemical treatment of all retention ponds qualifying for treatment (treatment of ponds located in areas designated as wetlands is not permitted by EPA regulation).
  3. Obtain residents permission for the chemical treatment of backyard breeding sources that cannot be eliminated such as:
    • Unopened swimming pools,
    • Poor drainage areas where rainwater does not dry for 7 to 10 days after a rainfall event.
  4. Chemical treatment of the discarded tire dumpster at the Town Garage dumping area as well as any other discarded tire piles we become aware of.
  5. Evaluation and chemical treatment of breeding sites at the Waste Water Treatment Plant.

While we must be ready to take the steps necessary to do everything within our power to protect our residents from this situation, we must also take into consideration the cost of initiating these steps. Should this situation escalate to the point it requires action, we can obtain the necessary chemicals and pesticides within 48 hours of ordering and we can have them distributed and applied to the areas needed about 48 hours after we receive them. The chemicals will begin working immediately. These steps, together with immediate stepped-up adulticide spraying will usually reduce the mosquito population to a non-nuisance level. When this is achieved the chances of one of our residents contracting West Nile Virus or any other mosquito borne illness are as low as we can make them.

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