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Mosquitoes Gain New Breeding Grounds Following Irene

Health Department official says "homeowners should take a look at their own properties and eliminate any unnecessary standing water."

When , she left behind plenty of standing water for mosquitoes to fester and multiply in—and and transmit it to humans.   

Rockland County Health Department Senior Environmental Health Specialist Brian Hunderfund said that while checking private properties, his department found numerous new mosquito breeding locations, such as containers that have filled up with water. 

“Our major concern at this point is that the public take a look at their properties and make sure that they have no containers, buckets, barrels- whatever could hold water,” he said. “Make sure they empty those.”   

The Health Department routinely takes samples from different mosquito breeding sites around the county and tests them for West Nile Virus. As of Friday, the newest batch of mosquito samples was not in yet, but Hunderfund said his department is concerned about the new breeding grounds that were created.        

“We suspect that virus levels will increase before the cold weather gets here,” he said.

Cooler temperatures make mosquitoes less active and less likely to make contact with humans. Until there is a hard freeze, mosquitoes will linger, Hunderfund said.              

To combat mosquitoes, the Health Department applies larvicide to known breeding locations. Hunderfund said the material they put in catch basins, a favored location of mosquitoes, should have held steady through the flooding from the hurricane. However, floodwater may have swept away larvicide at other locations.

“The other material they used would likely be washed away,” he said. “Our teams are busy out treating areas, retreating areas. So we’re not as concerned with that because we’ll be back out to those sites.”

Before Irene hit the area, Rockland had seen a greater number of mosquito samples test positive for the West Nile Virus compared to previous years.       

“From the standpoint of our test results, we have more activity this year than we’ve had since 2003,” he said. “So it’s higher this year than any year in recent history.”

If homeowners have swimming pools that they are no longer using, they can get free mosquito dunks from the Rockland County Health Department. The dunks release bacteria that kill developing mosquito larva. 

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