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Thursday, July 25, 2024


Government mosquito-fogging from trucks has been discontinued for the time being because of new environmental concerns, and a hand-spraying technique new to the territory is going to be used instead. Residents are being encouraged to call the Health Department to report mosquito-infested areas so the sprayers can be dispatched.
Because recent rains have made the mosquito problem especially acute, "we need the public's support in this endeavor," Health spokesman Lee Vanterpool said Monday. The numbers to call are 773-1311, ext. 307, for St. Croix and 774-4880 for St. Thomas and St. John.
Insecticide-fogging came under scrutiny last week at a meeting attended by Health Commissioner Wilbur Callender, Delegate Donna Christian-Christiansen and health officials from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding the effectiveness of spraying" from trucks, Callender said, including the effects on the environment. One concern raised by researchers at the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, he said, is that such spraying also kills the wasp bred to reduce the mealy bug infestations in the territory.
As a followup to the meeting with the CDC officials, Callender said, he plans to have discussions with Environmental Protection Agency personnel. He said federal health officials are now recommending that larvacidal agents be applied directly to mosquito-breeding grounds for more effective eradication.
Callender said the Health Department has had problems maintaining regular fogging on St. Thomas and St. John because of financial constraints and that a problem with the fogger truck on St. Croix has prevented spraying there for some time.
Ethlyn Joseph, director of the department's Environmental Health Division, said other options in mosquito abatement include the use of Abate granules and Bactimos briquets which can be placed directly in stagnant, mosquito-breeding water.
Eventually, she said, these products will be available to the public for pick-up. None are available currently, she said, but supplies are expected to arrive soon.

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