As Zika cases increase, spraying comes to Montgomery County

WASHINGTON — As the number of Zika patients continues grow, truck-mounted mosquito control spraying is scheduled for Thursday evening in the Strawberry Knolls area of Gaithersburg, in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Weather permitting, the spraying will begin after 7:30 p.m., and occur between Goshen Road and Pintail Lane, according to Mary Anderson, of Montgomery County’s Department of Health & Human Services.

As of Wednesday, the Centers of Disease Control said Maryland had 85 laboratory-confirmed Zika virus disease cases. Virginia had 75 and Washington, D.C. had 11.

The spraying is part of the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Mosquito Control Program, to avert a possible public health threat and to prevent serious birth defects associated with mosquito-borne viruses, including Zika and West Nile.

Montgomery County does not typically spray for mosquitoes, said Anderson, although specific communities and homeowner associations sometimes choose to spray on their own.

Health and agriculture officials typically don’t disclose why unscheduled spraying occurs in a specific location, citing patient confidentiality.

However, under the state’s mosquito program, the spraying is activated by one of three triggers:

  1. The identification of the Aedes Aegypti — or Egypt mosquito — the primary carrier of the Zika virus.
  2.  An overabundance of the Asian Tiger mosquito, which is thought to possibly be a carrier of the Zika virus.
  3.  A travel-associated human case of Zika, in which the individual has an active infection.

According to sources, the spraying generally is focused on a 300-yard radius around where the infected person lives, or where the infected mosquito pool was discovered.

Montgomery County, Maryland’s Department of Agriculture, Virginia’s Department of Health, and D.C.’s Department of Health offer information about Zika control on their websites.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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