County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Eli Avila announced on June 28 that free mosquito dunks will be made available to Orange County residents as part of their Zika Action Plan to help prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.
Mosquito dunks release a small amount of bacteria that is toxic to all species of mosquito larvae, but harmless to other living organisms.
“There is virtually no risk of acquiring Zika virus in this region at this time, but these dunks serve as an important preventative measure,” Neuhaus said. “The Department [of Health] has tracked mosquito populations since 2000 for West Nile Virus and will continue to do so.”
The dunks are added to standing water for containers that cannot be drained to keep them from becoming mosquito breeding sites and utilize a naturally-occurring type of bacteria to control mosquito larvae.
Health department staff will also be available to offer advice on how residents can eliminate standing water around their homes to keep mosquitoes from breeding and how to prevent mosquito bites.
Neuhaus and Avila unveiled Orange County’s comprehensive plan to protect residents from Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases in late-May.
To reduce the mosquito population around your home and property, Neuhaus reminds residents to take the following steps to reduce or eliminate standing water:
- Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers
- Tightly cover water storage containers to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in them
- Make sure that your roof gutters drain properly and clean any clogged gutters
- Turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use
- Change the water in birdbaths twice a week
- Remove all discarded tires from your property
- Clean vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds
- Drain water from pool covers
- Remove leaves and debris as they collect on pool covers to reduce breeding areas
- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens are fashionable but become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate
Dr. Avila reminds residents how they can avoid mosquito bites:
- Dress in long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active
- Use repellant products registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Do not overuse repellant—only apply as much as you need to provide protection
- Read and follow label directions before you use any kind of repellant
Residents can pick up their free mosquito dunk at 124 Main Street in Goshen on the third floor at the County’s Environmental Health Division. Mosquito dunks are also provided by the New York State Department of Health and are available by calling 1-888-364-472.
For more information, call the Orange County Department of Health at 845-291-2332.
To contact this reporter, email [email protected]