The CDC & EPA Say Puerto Rico Should Consider Aerial Spraying for Zika-Related Mosquito Management

With various studies showing the rampant spread of the Zika virus and its growing risk to pregnant women and their fetuses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urged the Puerto Rican government to consider implementing aerial spraying as part of its mosquito control program.

With various studies showing the rampant spread of the Zika virus and its growing risk to pregnant women and their fetuses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urged the Puerto Rican government to consider implementing aerial spraying as part of its mosquito control program.

According to CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, the “continental US” has used aerial spraying techniques to reduce mosquito populations and suggested Puerto Rico to get on board with “integrated pest management.”

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy explained in a news release what an integrated and comprehensive approach would include: reducing places where mosquitoes lay eggs, keeping them out of houses, and cutting the populations of both larval and adult mosquitoes by treating areas with EPA-approved products.

Both the CDC and EPA understand Puerto Rico would need assistance with pursuing this comprehensive approach, and plan to:

· Support Puerto Rico in developing its own integrated vector management unit with significant risk for viruses spread through mosquitoes. The CDC will provide initial funding and technical support, while the EPA will provide technical and regulatory guidance.

· Support implementation of an integrated mosquito management program, dedicating funding of more than $500,000 for safely disposing discarded tires, where mosquitoes lay eggs, and to systematically reduce sources of standing water where mosquitoes lay eggs (septic tanks, cisterns, storm drains, and water meters)

· Support community application of “adulticides” to quickly destroy adult mosquitoes and larvicides to effectively reduce young mosquito populations

Since prior research showed that mosquitoes in Puerto Rico were resistant to all aerial formulations of pyrethroid insecticides, experts are considering another EPA-approved product, Naled, which is already routinely applied by air to nearly 16 million acres in US mainland — particularly for mosquito control following hurricanes and floods.

Naled, an organophosphate insecticide, initially registered in 1959 for use as an “adulticide insecticide” mainly to control adult mosquitoes, works by breaking down into dichlorvos in animals and the environment.

Specifically in Florida, officials treated Naled in cities like Miami and Tampa after Hurricanes Charley, Jeanne, and Frances.

Furthermore, Naled was also effectively used in Puerto Rico in 1987 to manage the mosquitoes that spread Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses.