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City of Columbus Public Health Division of Environmental Health—Mosquito Control Program

The mosquito control program includes: monitoring mosquitoes for microorganisms and human disease monitoring; larval mosquito monitoring and control; adult mosquito monitoring and control; analyzing mosquito monitoring data; education and communications; investigating complaints and enforcement; and preparing for emergency situations.

Since West Nile virus was introduced into the United States over 25 years ago, Columbus Public Health as well as 19 other counties in Ohio and many others across the country have been trapping mosquitoes and testing them for various viruses. In 2014, pools of mosquitoes in Ohio were tested and 369 of them were positive for West Nile virus. The largest contributor of samples tested came from Columbus Public Health. In 2014, there were nine cases of West Nile virus in humans and 29 cases of La Crosse encephalitis virus in humans in Ohio.

Larval mosquito monitoring and control was accomplished through inspections of over 10,800 catch basins, 184 rain barrels, 804 scrap tire generators, 93 stagnant pools, and 1208 stagnant water sites. Larviciding of each of these areas was a major means of reducing the mosquito population. Adult surveillance and control programs start with identifying the areas where actual disease has occurred or adult mosquitoes have been found to carry the viruses which cause disease. Mosquito traps are set in these areas and also set in other areas based on information about past positive findings of either viruses or people with diseases from viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. The type of mosquito, quantity, and whether or not they are infected is analyzed and adulticiding programs are initiated. Throughout the mosquito season, truck-mounted equipment sprays tiny droplets of chemicals into the air. The mosquito control unit also treats all city parks especially at the time of holidays.

Using mapping techniques, analysis is done of the monitoring data from year to year to determine if there are changes which need to be noted in establishing larval and adult mosquito control programs.

Since the citizens in the community are an integral part of all public health control activities, they are kept constantly aware of what the problems are and how best to control them. Also if any citizen finds standing water or is concerned about mosquitoes proliferating, he/she can call the 311 call center. All complaints are handled on a priority basis. (See endnote 32.)

In the event of a serious emergency or anticipated serious emergency, the environmental health division administrator prepares a memorandum for the assistant health commissioner to explain the nature of the emergency, the potential for outbreaks of disease, the activities which will be carried out by the division to prevent, mitigate, and control the mosquito problem, and the necessary emergency budget. An example of this occurred on February 1, 2016, when the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus outbreak to be an extraordinary event that needed a coordinated response which constitutes a public health emergency. Increased public information and the initiation of a source reduction program were instituted at once. This was followed by increased surveillance and larviciding and then adulticiding where necessary. Physicians, clinics, and hospitals were sent notices reminding them that any patients with the diseases under concern must be reported immediately to the state health department. Confirmed cases must be separated from any potential mosquito bites.

It will be necessary to increase the number of vector control aides who are trained for mosquito control work, buy additional mosquito traps, prepare public outreach material, and obtain a supply of an effective water-based adulticide. Appropriate budget amounts must be set aside for these activities. (See endnote 33.)

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