Plano's Integrated Mosquito Management Plan

State: TX Type: Model Practice Year: 2005

The City of Plano is located 20 miles north of Dallas, in the 13th fastest growing county in the United States, Collin County with 244,000 residents. The City’s mission is to provide outstanding services and facilities, through cooperative efforts with our citizens that contribute to the quality of life in the community. One concern that has affected the quality of life in our community is attributed to the mosquito. While the threat of West Nile Virus, a mosquito transmitted disease, became a threat to North America with its first documented case reported the summer of 1999, Texas did not see its first case of West Nile until June of 2002. There were 202 human cases and 13 reported deaths during that year from the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS). Throughout the years, mosquitoes have been responsible for many disease outbreaks that have also resulted in human deaths. North Texas is also confronted with other mosquito-borne diseases such as: St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE). These diseases are endemic to our region and remain a threat to humans, livestock and wildlife. The Environmental Health Department’s goal and objectives for mosquito control are to: 1) implement measures to reduce the mosquito population and minimize spread of vector-borne diseases; 2) establish aggressive education campaign strategies to inform public on ways to eliminate mosquito breeding sites aided by source reduction; and 3) partner with residents, county and state officials to provide a framework for responding to citizens and address mosquito nuisances within the City.
Prior to 1995, The City of Plano’s mosquito control program included broad-base spraying and randomly larvaciding stagnant swimming pools and storm drains. City inspectors would spray concentrated areas when residents called in to report mosquito problems. The City later realized that larvaciding storm drains was ineffective because of the constant waterflow generated from over-used irrigation systems and rain events. The Department’s approach to mosquito control was minimal and considered reactive. During this time, there were limited resources, training and funds to conduct a comprehensive mosquito control program.With the emergence of West Nile Virus and other prevalent mosquito-borne diseases, the City of Plano realized the need to take an aggressive approach to the escalating mosquito threat. As the department experimented and researched various mosquito control methods, we established and implemented a strategically planned Mosquito Control Program, also known as “Plano’s Integrated Mosquito Management Program. “Our comprehensive approach included four principles: Surveillance, Source Reduction, Public Outreach and Education, and Legal Authority. During the summer of 2002, the Health Department received over 300 mosquito complaints and over 400 reported dead bird sightings. The number of complaints doubled from 2001 to 2002. At this point, we began increased Surveillance techniques in late summer and early fall of 2002. Our first steps involved identifying stagnant water bodies in low lying areas, creek locations, abandoned residential pools and known water bodies using a GIS tracking system. Map overlays identified areas mentioned above as well as highlighting previous reported mosquito complaints within the city. Second, specialists starting using various types of mosquito traps and sampling techniques to determine which species were prevalent in specific areas. This strategy helped inspectors determine which mosquito control methods would be used to eliminate breeding sites. For instance, if citizens constantly complained they were bitten by mosquitoes during late evening and night hours, we would suspect Culex spp. We would then use a special mosquito trap used to capture this species (gravid traps). Once the species was positively identified, the area would be treated with the best control method known to eliminate this type of mosquito. Because we know Culex ssp. is a vector for SLE and WNV, we would aggressively seek to reduce and/or eliminate breeding sites using the source reduction plan. Source Reduction is a series of methods used to change and interrupt the environment of the mosquito life cycle. One useful note concerning source reduction is that it is the most cost effective and economical long-term method used in controlling mosquitoes. These methods include eliminating any potential breeding site for mosquitoes. Examples include: removing stagnant water from bird baths, gutters, old tires, children’s toys, draining landscape, filling stagnant water holes from construction, and pumping abandoned residential swimming pools. Implementing a source reduction plan is not limited to residents; it includes educating businesses, government agencies, livestock farms, churches and community organizations by way of brochures, flyers and public presentations.
Agency Community Roles The City of Plano Environmental Health Department has been the leader in establishing and using innovative strategies for mosquito control within the last decade. Since the threat of WNV in 1999, surrounding cities have come aboard to address the rising concern of mosquito-borne diseases. Smaller jurisdictions lacked resources and man-power to replicate a solid vector control program. At this point, the City realized that helping other cities was actually helping ourselves, because mosquitoes don’t have boundaries. In 2002 we established Memorandum’s of Understanding with border cities and developed Service Contracts to assist and/or provide vector-control services. Plano also partnered with other local jurisdictions and the County Health Department to develop a community-wide campaign to educate the public on ways prevent mosquito breeding in their communities and serious health affects associated with disease carrying mosquitoes. The department also coordinated monthly training sessions with other city employees and conducted field exercises demonstrating surveillance and treatment techniques for mosquito control. Costs and Expenditures:At the start of the vector control program and before Plano’s Integrated Management Program was implemented, the department had under $500.00 budgeted for chemical and supply costs. There was not a full-time Entomologist on staff nor was there current staff available to fulfill all the responsibilities. In 1997 the department hired an additional staff member who dedicated nearly 30% of his time to mosquito-control during non-peak season (November – February) and 65% of his time during mosquito season (March – October). Additional funding was requested from our General Fund Budget to help with increased costs for materials, equipment and labor. The department later received additional funding to sustain services prior to demand increases. County Health officials joined in and provided in-kind contributions for training, literature and equipment. Implementation:1995-1997: Discovered that during rain events larvacide treatment was washed away because of the continuous flow of water - mosquitoes were not breeding much in the storm drains. Joined Texas Mosquito Control Association. Harvested Gambusia minnow farm for City mosquito program. 1998-1999: Increased surveillance techniques, sampling and mapping of mosquitoes. Began shipping mosquito samples to State Health Department for testing of arbovirus, also identified gender and species. 2000: Instituted Source Reduction Plan within department. Mounted fogger to trailer from pick-up bed to reduce noise levels which also diverted chemical cloud further away from driver. Allowed use of truck in less hospitalized areas for setting traps. Pesticide companies began to manufacture and sell foggers with newly advertised remote controls as a result of our innovation 2001: Discovered Culex ssp. main carrier of West Nile. Began use of gravid traps – most effective for trapping the Culex spp. Mosquito. Established new procedures for fogging – complaint based spraying within 1 mile radius, altered hours of fogging (2:00 am – 5:00 am.). 2002 to Present: WNV now in City – Established City’s 24-hour “hotline” (pre-recorded information regarding WNV and proactive steps taken by City to reduce mosquito population) updated weekly, issued public service announcements on local cable television station, developed Plano City news briefs on City’s web site with assistance from Public Information Officer, attended homeowner’s meetings and distributed information, provided literature in public libraries and businesses, and utilized utility bill inserts for mass distributions to residents. Intake of dead birds reported to county and state health officials. Trained additional employee to assist with mosquito control – Certified Pesticide Applicator License. Now have two Certified Pesticide Applicators. Partnered with other City and County Officials to coordinate town hall meetings and community forums to education public on mosquito control and prevention strategies. Launched elderly and youth educational campaigns - Discussed harmful health effects associated with contracting WNV and other vector-borne diseases, ways to prevent mosquito breeding and various insect repellants available and proper use. Work closely with County Epidemiologist to track WNV and other vector-borne disease activity reported in humans and livestock.  Instituted new mandates to support “Plano’s Integrated Mosquito Management Plan”. Met with City/County officials monthly to coordinate responses and practices related to the mosquito concern.
Since the establishment of our aggressive education campaigns and improved surveillance strategies, our mosquito complaints have drastically decreased along with the reporting of dead birds. The campaign has reduced the amounts of chemicals used for treating mosquitoes and fewer vehicle miles have been logged for spraying within the last two years. Statistically, financially and from an outcome based perspective, the City of Plano has made a positive contribution to the public and the citizens by implementing the “Plano’s Integrated Mosquito Management Plan”. The Plan will continue to incorporate the use of City/County resources, public outreach and education, and collaboration with residents and community leaders encouraging practical behavioral changes in the home and within the community.