NEW YORK—For only the third time in a decade, the city’s Department of Health will shift its spraying of pesticides into Manhattan. The action is aimed at killing mosquitoes and preventing West Nile virus and the rarer, but deadlier, eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).
The spraying, slated for Friday, Aug. 31, will take place between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., weather permitting. A low concentration of synthetic pesticide Anvil will be sprayed over parts of Central Park, Clinton, Lincoln Square, the Upper West Side, and Manhattan Valley.
This will be the first time any area in Manhattan has been sprayed, apart from Washington Heights, which was sprayed in 2003 and 2007, according to city records. Spraying in the other four boroughs is common, such as the scheduled sprays in Queens and the Bronx Tuesday evening.
The borders of the Manhattan spray area will be West 97th Street to the north, West End Avenue to the west, West 58th Street to the south, and West Drive in Central Park to the east.
Eight West Nile Virus cases in NYC
The number of reported human cases of West Nile virus in the city has reached eight, with no deaths, while eight other cases and two deaths have been reported statewide, according to spokespersons from the city and state departments of health.
West Nile virus, which reached the United States in 1999 in New York, is typically less harmful than EEE and doesn’t cause symptoms in every one who contracts it. But the virus was responsible for both deaths in New York state this year. On Saturday, an elderly resident of Nassau County, over the age of 80, died. Youth and the elderly are most in danger of dying from the disease.
Health and pesticides
Some groups and elected officials, such as Assemblyman William Colton and Beyond Pesticides, have expressed concern about using pesticides to combat mosquitoes in terms of human health and mosquitoes becoming resistant to the sprays.
New York’s Department of Health states on its website that low levels of Anvil, a pesticide, in low concentrations are not likely to incur “adverse health effects … but some individuals may experience health effects.”
The health department suggests staying in doors for at least 30 minutes after spraying, closing all doors and windows, and turning off air conditioning units. Inhaling significant amounts of the pesticide can harm the nervous system, and a high level of exposure to the petrol solvent the pesticide is diluted in can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.
New Yorkers who wish to avoid mosquito bites should consider limiting time outdoors between dawn and dusk; wearing loose, light, long-sleeved clothing when outside; and clearing their property of any standing water, according to recommendations from the government and experts in the sector.
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