Goldfeder Meets with City Health Officials in Rockaway; Discuss mosquito population, West Nile virus

Goldfeder Meets with City Health Officials in Rockaway; Discuss mosquito population, West Nile virus

PHOTO:  City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Mary Bassett, M.D.  Photo Courtesy of Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach) recently hosted city Health Department officials at his Rockaway office to discuss efforts to control mosquito populations and fight the spread of West Nile virus in Superstorm Sandy-ravaged communities in south Queens and on the peninsula.

Last month, Goldfeder sent a letter to Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, M.D., urging the agency to correct a perceived oversight and add Howard Beach, Lindenwood and Hamilton Beach to the 2015 West Nile spraying schedule.

Bassett this week confirmed the state’s first case of WNV in 2015 was a 60-year-old Brooklyn man who has been treated and sent home.

Goldfeder sat down with Assistant Commissioner Mario Merlino, who heads Veterinary and Pest Control Services in Health’s Division of Environmental Health. The assemblyman said he was invited by the agency in an effort explain mosquito spraying and West Nile testing efforts; and to dispel any misconceptions surrounding any potential threat.

According to Merlino, the agency maintains and monitors a base of approximately 60 test sites throughout the city in locations with a historic West Nile Virus presence. This, Merlino said, helps the department confirm cases of West Nile-carrying mosquitoes and inform spraying campaigns. Merlino explained that while the salt marsh mosquitoes found in areas around Jamaica Bay are known to bite humans during the day and can be a considerable nuisance, they are not generally carriers of the potentially deadly virus. Still, Merlino noted, the agency has a test site in nearby Howard Beach that it monitors regularly.

Bassett indicated that the city applies larvicide to every sewer catch basin in the five boroughs three times during mosquito season.

“Working with partners such as Assemblymember Goldfeder, we will concentrate additional efforts, such as more surveillance and community outreach, in areas with high mosquito populations to further ensure that we are taking all of the necessary steps to minimize any health risks during mosquito season,” she said.

Goldfeder urged the agency to review existing testing sites, and consider new posts in light of the increase in standing water at Sandy-abandoned properties.

“Every summer, families across southern Queens and Rockaway deal with the onslaught of mosquitoes any time we step outside. That’s why it’s so important we understand the potential risks posed by West Nile Virus and dispel any confusion about this deadly disease,” Goldfeder said. “I give tremendous credit to Commissioner Bassett and the Health Department for being proactive in educating the community on West Nile and mosquito breeding. I look forward to helping inform our families how the city controls mosquito populations and what we can all do to stay safe and healthy this summer.”


By Michael V. Cusenza




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>