Starting last week, the Allegheny County Health Department is treating storm water catch basins with pesticides to combat the breeding of mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile virus.
While West Nile has not yet been detected in the County this year, health officials report it is only a matter of time before the virus turns up here. The mosquito population is very high in many areas, reaching an average of nearly 200 mosquitoes per trap in recent Health Department trapping.
"Any catch basin that holds water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes during the heat of summer and will be treated with pesticides that keep mosquito larvae from emerging into full-fledged adults capable of spreading disease to humans," said County Health Director Dr. Bruce W. Dixon.
The pesticides, which are non-toxic to people, pets and other aquatic life, are applied manually and will inhibit mosquito breeding in catch basins through September. Treated catch basins will be marked with a bright green chalk.
Health Department staff will treat about 22,000 catch basins in Pittsburgh. The treatments will continue daily until all catch basins are treated and will take place from 4 to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Treatments may be postponed when heavy rains are forecast.
Other municipalities are encouraged to participate and treat their catch basins as well as municipal property where mosquitoes might breed. The pesticides are available from the Health Department and can be obtained by calling 412-350-3886.
Health officials say residents can also help reduce the mosquito population by eliminating and treating mosquito breeding sites on their own property.