Via CIDRAP, Lisa Schnirring writes: Feds call for aerial spraying to blunt Puerto Rico's Zika rise. Excerpt:
Based on several reports that Zika virus is spreading rapidly in Puerto Rico, federal officials yesterday recommended that the territory consider aerial spraying as part of a program to curb the mosquito populations that spread the disease.
Puerto Rico has reported spikes in Zika infections, and an update today from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 506 more cases have been reported from affected territories since the previous week, most of them in Puerto Rico.
In other Zika developments, European researchers who sifted through travel-illness data found very few mosquito-borne illnesses in those who visited Brazil in the months that parallel the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Resistant mosquitoes limit spray formula
CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said several independent sources indicate that based on current trends, thousands of pregnant women in Puerto Rico will be infected with Zika virus.
"The continental United States has been using aerial spraying for decades to reduce mosquito populations, and we urge the people of Puerto Rico to consider using the same proven and safe tactic," he said in a statement.
The CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are recommending spraying, which EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said is in line with integrated mosquito control recommendations for other parts of the United States. "We strongly encourage the people of Puerto Rico to consider aerial spraying as this approach is safe for people and a proven way of controlling the spread of mosquitoes that transmit diseases from Zika to dengue to chikungunya," she said.
The two agencies said they would help Puerto Rico implement an integrated mosquito control plan, with the CDC providing initial funding and technical support and the EPA providing technical and regulatory guidance. Plans include $500,000 in dedicated funding to safely get rid of discarded tires and other standing water sources and support for communities to use adulticides and larvacides.
For aerial spraying, Puerto Rico won't be able to use pyrethroid formulations, because studies earlier this year showed mosquitoes in the territory were resistant, the CDC said in its statement. The alternative product being considered is Naled, which has been used on the US mainland as recently as last year, including in Miami and Tampa, Fla. The same product has been used following hurricanes in Florida and was used in Puerto Rico in 1987.
The CDC said on Jul 1 that Puerto Rico received $5 million of $25 million from the agency to help states, cities, and territories battle the Zika virus.