The following press release was issued by the Elkhart County Health Department. For further inquiries about it, please contact the Health Department or County Commissioners.
The Elkhart County Health Department and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) have been working together to monitor eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) activity in Elkhart County. So far in 2019, a total of eight horses have tested positive for EEE, along with one mosquito sample pool in Elkhart County.
Due to the detection of EEE activity in Elkhart County and the occurrence of human EEE cases in nearby Michigan counties, the Elkhart County Commissioners have decided to perform targeted mosquito control utilizing aerial spraying to help protect residents from EEE. While rare, EEE virus can cause serious illness and has a fatality rate of about 33 percent in people.
The horse cases are concentrated south of Bristol and west of Middlebury in an area often referred to as the “fruit hills.” The positive mosquito pool was located in the northwest quadrant of the county near Boot Lake. These areas include numerous freshwater, hardwood swamp and bog areas and will be targeted with aerial spraying.
Mosquito control professionals will apply an approved pesticide, Dibrom, as an ultra-low volume (ULV) spray. ULV sprayers dispense very fine aerosol droplets that stay suspended in the air and kill adult mosquitoes on contact. This is a tactic other states, including Michigan, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have recently employed to combat EEE. Dibrom has been registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1959 for use in the United States. Dibrom immediately begins to break down upon release of the spray droplets in the open air and breaks down rapidly in water and in sunlight.
The decision to implement the additional control measure was made by the County Commissioners in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ISDH, Elkhart County Health Department, Purdue University Ag Extension office, and Emergency Management. Protecting the public health is the primary goal of the decision.
County officials are targeting Wednesday October 2, at dusk, for the application. Thursday October 3 is the backup application date if weather prevents the Wednesday application. Residents should take actions to protect ornamental fishponds and beehives. Organic farms registered on Field Watch will not be sprayed. If an organic farm operation is not registered with Field Watch, contact Jeff Burbrink at Purdue University Extension, Goshen, 574-533-0554, by Tuesday afternoon.
While the spraying is expected to kill 90 percent of mosquitoes, Elkhart County residents are urged to continue to take precautions until the first hard freeze, including:
- Avoiding areas where mosquitoes breed,
- Staying indoors when mosquitoes are active,
- Utilizing an EPA-registered insect repellent; and
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants in areas of high mosquito activity.
In addition, residents are urged to check their property for mosquito breeding sites and take the following actions:
- Empty containers that are holding water,
- Unclog gutters,
- Keep overgrown vegetation mowed,
- Dispose of old tires
- Maintain screens in doorways and windows.
- Swimming pools should be maintained clean and operational
- Ornamental ponds should be aerated to prevent the collection of mosquito larvae.
For more information about EEE, visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/easterneguineencephalitis/index.html