As you all know, West Nile virus was a problem in our community and around the nation last year. This year I want to make sure that Fort Wayne is prepared to handle to mosquito problem and is taking proactive steps aimed at preventing an outbreak. I appointed a B.E.S.T. (Building Excellent Service through Teams) Team during the winter to take an in-depth look at the West Nile virus issue.
Based on recommendations from the B.E.S.T. team, Fort Wayne and Allen County are ready to combat the threat of West Nile. The B.E.S.T. team has advised how to control the mosquito population as well as how to educate the public about West Nile virus and develop an integrated pest management system for the City and County.
The first and most important arm of defense against West Nile is personal protection. With the help of the B.E.S.T. team the City will be distributing informational brochures outlining steps every family can take to protect themselves from insect bites and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds on their property. This includes disposing of old tires, cleaning birdbaths regularly and eliminating other standing water around their homes.
The B.E.S.T. team has also recommended treating up to 6,000 catch basins in the City. These chemical-based briquettes will destroy mosquito larva without harming other animals or the water supply. Gravid Traps will be used in parks throughout the City of Fort Wayne. The traps will catch mosquitoes that will be tested for the presence of West Nile virus on a weekly basis.
The City of Fort Wayne will turn to a second level of intervention only when control of mosquito larva is no longer an option to prevent human illness and the spread of West Nile virus. Spraying will only occur when there is a positive test for the presence of West Nile mosquitoes. Spraying will include a half-mile radius around the test site and nearby residents will be given 48 hours notice.
This plan is comprehensive and community-oriented to deal with the threat of West Nile virus. I cannot stress enough that each of us can help control this disease. Turn over flowerpots, pick up empty soda cans and discard old tires. It doesn't take much water to breed mosquitoes. Eliminating that opportunity can make summer more enjoyable for all of us.