The recent discovery of the West Nile virus in two Oswego County communities has prompted local officials in one town to begin conducting their own spraying to reduce the mosquito population. But as our Candace Hopkins tells us, health department officials say the move is unnecessary.
HASTINGS, N.Y. -- Mosquito traps have uncovered evidence of the West Nile virus in New Haven and Central Square, a discovery that has residents and officials, like Hastings Town Supervisor Jim Weatherup, concerned.
"People outta be able to enjoy their homes and go outside at night without the fear of the diseases," Weatherup said.
In an attempt to cut down on the mosquitoes carrying those illnesses, Hastings has decided to take control of the problem, hiring a private company to conduct aerial spraying.
Officials say the spraying will target the most populated areas of town and parks and recreational areas, like this park, where the Pop Warner Football League holds their games and practices.
Typically, it's the county health department that would conduct the spraying, but town officials say they refuse to wait for outside help.
"We felt I guess a little bit of a lack in health department initiative, the West Nile's been discovered in our town so we're gonna act," said Weatherup.
But the Oswego County Health Department says they haven't sprayed because the dry summer we've had has kept the mosquito population unusually small, so they believe spraying is unnecessary at this point.
"The drought has issues in and of itself, but it's been good for us for the mosquito problems we've had, the eggs sit there, they can't hatch, unless they're in the water," said Oswego County Senior Public Heath Sanitarian Chris Williams.
Despite evidence of West Nile in Onondaga County as well, Dr. Cynthia Morrow, the Onondaga County Health Commissioner, agrees.
"At this point, with the total population identified in traps, in all 19 traps, have only 500 mosquitoes, spraying only gets those mosquitoes that are airborne at the time of the spray and for us, given our data, it just doesn't make sense," Morrow said.
While Hastings has the right to spray, both departments stress there is no better way to protect yourself, than taking personal protection measures.
The spraying in Hastings could begin as early as next week. Hasting town officials say each spraying session will cost between $5,000 and $6,000 and right now, it is unclear where that money will come from, but if residents approve, they will budget money for next year to spray once again.