Connecticut sprays three towns with anti-mosquito insecticide

Three towns in Fairfield County, Connecticut have been sprayed with the anti-mosquito insecticide Scourge, following the discovery of mosquitoes carrying St Louis Encephalitis (SLE).

Spraying took place on the evening of Thursday 23 September in Greenwich, Stamford and Westport, with citizens being advised to turn off air conditioners, close all windows and doors and to keep pets and children indoors.

Scourge is the brand name given to resmethrin. According to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CDEP), Scourge “is the least toxic product available … won’t harm wildlife or bees and breaks down in sunlight within four hours”.

The CDEP decided to spray after the discovery in Westport of mosquitoes carrying SLE and a crow that died of the disease. The spraying on 23 September took place only a few weeks after aerial spraying of New York City was carried out to contain a SLE outbreak that resulted in three human deaths (see related story).

SLE is a virus transmitted via mosquito bites. It causes inflammation of the brain. Although no human cases of SLE have been found in Connecticut, a human case of SLE was confirmed this week in Westchester County, New York state.

Physicians for Social Responsibility, an American non-profit organisation, is one of several groups warning of a continued risk of SLE and other tropical diseases in northern countries as global warming continues. “As greenhouse gases accumulates and the earth warms, northern areas will be at greater risk of encephalitis, malaria, yellow fever and other infectious diseases that have previously affected only tropical areas,” the group states.

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