Our local encephalitis and mosquito spraying story that concerns many of us has not reached its finish. However, there are a few related items that we can now understand and deserve our attention.
The first is the existence of a viral research lab on Plum Island, which is located off the north fork of Long Island's east end. The government is even considering expanding its study of infectious diseases there, disregarding its difficulties in the past of containing viruses in its keep. We see how fast and far these diseases spread.
I have nothing against developing elaborate, expensive mobile labs to study infectious diseases at their outbreak locations, but I believe it is pure madness to bring them here to New York. I hope all my neighbors, regardless of political affiliation, contact our elected officials and demand that the Research Center at Plum Island be shut down.
The second issue is the almost panic driven desire to spray pesticides to kill mosquitoes that might be carrying some version of encephalitis. At first it looked like Nassau County was the most level headed county in our region on this issue. Nassau has been inspecting for mosquitoes all along, not like NYC which abandoned their monitoring programs as a cost cutting measure. However, on Sept. 28, Thomas S. Gulottas office announced that they would spray where dead birds are found.
Most likely, the birds died from their contact with Malathion sprayed by our neighboring counties. Spraying should be done where the mosquitoes test positive for encephalitis not the presence of dead birds. Any presticide that attacks a mosquitoe's ability to live is not going to be healthy for other living beings, including people.
Finally, there is the issue of mosquito control in general. It's funny, in a way, how our current politicians always tout the use of the Internet to find useful information. Well I did.
I found many sites to explain the hazards of using pesticides like our neighboring counties' spray Malathion which is really awful and our spray resmethrin which has chronic effects on the liver and thyroid.
I also found many non-toxic mechanisms that also control mosquito infestations. These include: keeping our fishing stocks healthy that eat mosquito larvae, a non-toxic product that will form a thin residue on top of water which interferes with the mosquito larva's "snorkel" (it can't breathe), a mosquito killing bacteria called bti which is found in mosquito dunks, mosquito traps that either mimic a prey's heat or breathing "signature" and other insecticides that are biodegradable. These methods should have been used all along so we wouldn't be in this crisis situation.