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DOH Enhances Mosquito Surveillance and Control Program

Monday, April 4, 2016
The program has increased surveillance time frame, testing criteria to include four viruses and educational outreach to the community

DOH Contact: Marcus A Williams Director of Communications (P) (202) 724-7481 (E) [email protected] 
DFS Contact: Lashon S. Beamon  Director of Communications (P) (202) 480-0777 (E) [email protected]

The District of Columbia (DC) Department of Health (DOH) announces the 2016 Enhanced Mosquito Surveillance and Control Plan for trapping and testing adult mosquitoes in all eight wards in the District. Trapping will begin on April 4, 2016, and continue through the summer and fall through the first frost; this expands the surveillance period to start two months earlier than previous years. Trapped mosquitoes will be tested by the Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) for the following viruses that can be transmitted by mosquitos: Zika, West Nile, Dengue, and Chikungunya. Currently, there have been three confirmed cases in the District related to international travel. There have been no confirmed locally acquired cases.

“These program enhancements are critical to ensure that we are protecting the public health and safety of District residents. The increased surveillance time will also allow us to readily identify when local transmission of the Zika virus could occur in the District and to get a more comprehensive picture of how the Zika virus could impact our jurisdiction,” said DOH Director, Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt. “As always, we are strongly encouraging residents to eliminate water filled spaces in which mosquitoes breed, such as old car tires, lawn figurines, poorly draining rain gutters, discarded cans and saucers under plant pots.”

To reduce mosquito populations throughout the District, DOH will place insecticides that target the juvenile larval-stage of mosquitoes (larvicides) in areas of standing water and catch basins. Targeting larvae in these areas will kill mosquitoes before they develop into adults and can bite humans.

“Our Public Health Lab proactively established the capability to test for Zika in anticipation of DOH’s need to determine if the disease is in the region,” said DFS Director, Dr. Jenifer Smith. “Last year we only tested for the presence of West Nile, this year we are expanding our testing to include Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika as well.”

DOH will hold two community outreach engagements on Saturday, May 14, 2016 and Saturday, July 16, 2016 in all eight wards, to provide educational materials and mosquito protection kits to DC residents. These events will inform DC residents on the proper use of insecticides, how to reduce mosquito breeding sites in the community, and preventative measures individuals can take to protect themselves.

Residents can minimize their risk of mosquito bites in a number of ways. When outdoors, wear clothes that cover arms and legs and use insect repellents. When indoors, ensure that windows have screens and doors are secured.

For more information on 2016 Enhanced Mosquito Surveillance visit, call (202) 442-5833 or email [email protected].