Alcoa to begin spraying for mosquitoes citywide
By Iva Butler | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rainfall in Blount County is 18 inches above normal this year, creating ideal living and reproductive conditions for mosquitoes.
It is so bad that Alcoa is planning to start spraying every residential street and certain commercial areas in low-lying areas once a week. In the past, only half the city that was prone to mosquito problems and was sprayed, but this year the problem is citywide.
“While the best way is to destroy the habitat, the spraying should have some impact even though it won’t eliminate all of the impact. It should make it more tolerable for outdoor activities,” said Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson. Plans are to spray close to the weekend.
“The spraying will continue through the first frost or until mosquitoes no longer pose a problem,” he said.
Maryville, which has a much larger residential population than Alcoa, does not have the equipment necessary to spray the city, public information officer Pam Arnett said.
When the city gets calls about mosquito problems, officials they refer them to the Blount County Health Department or the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
“It’s not a public safety issue, it’s a public health issue,” Arnett said.
The size of territory affects the response of governments to the mosquito problem. Alcoa is about 14.8 square miles, Maryville is 16.8 and Blount County is 558, according to the Census Bureau.
No areas are free of the blood-suckers when water is present, which is required to allow the larvae mosquitoes to develop. Immature mosquitoes require stagnant water for development.
Larvae feed on microorganisms and organic matter and grow quickly. It takes seven to 12 days for them to develop to the stage that they attack warmblooded animals.
According to the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, “female mosquitoes need a blood meal to ensure that their eggs are viable. Male adult mosquitoes feed exclusively on plant juices and do not require blood.”
The dangerous factor is that they harbor disease organisms, like West Nile Virus, which they can pass on to humans and pets through the bloodstream. West Nile can be deadly, particularly for older residents, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.
While 80 percent of those infected show no symptoms, the other 20 percent can develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, stiff neck, nausea, weakness, vomiting and rash.
Cases may become so severe that the patients are confused, have convulsions and brain swelling.
People over 70 with compromised health are at the greatest risk.
According to hospital public information officer Josh West, Blount Memorial Hospital has had no West Nile Virus cases this year.
Mosquitoes have a limited flight range, being limited to a mile of their aquatic habitat.
If there are sufficient water sources for mosquitoes, they may not venture a block from a backyard if enough hosts are available.