Suffolk County Department of Public Works employees Chris Kampfer, in...

Suffolk County Department of Public Works employees Chris Kampfer, in back, and Mike Masterson, driving, spray mosquito pesticide on roads in Ocean Beach. The county is planning to conduct ground spraying today on Fire Island, weather permitting. (July 16, 2013) Credit: Steve Pfost

I must disagree with much of Michael Dobie's column "A flawed plan to attack mosquitoes" [Opinion, Aug. 24]. Dobie suggests that Suffolk is not following the state West Nile virus plan and that an "emergency" should exist to justify spraying pesticides. I was a leading member of the Suffolk County Council on Environmental Quality, which developed the county mosquito control plan, and it follows World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and state guidelines.

The state West Nile virus plan authorizes individual municipal responses, and Suffolk's was reviewed by state health officials. The protocol allows the use of spraying to kill adult mosquitoes with sufficient evidence that there's a threat of disease outbreak or increase in infected mosquito populations. State health officials have determined that emergency declarations are unnecessary when disease is chronic in an area, as in Suffolk. Indeed, the entire thrust of the Suffolk plan is to prevent emergencies.

Dobie wrote that the detection of "only" 30 diseased mosquitoes in Babylon was not enough to justify spraying. However, federal and state guidelines call for active suppression as early as possible to prevent the disease from establishing itself. Dead birds are no longer a reliable indicator of viral presence, as many are now immune to West Nile virus, although they remain carriers.

Finally, Dobie notes that there have been no human infections. This is precisely because of aggressive early suppression.

Michael Kaufman, Nissequogue


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