Project SWAT (Share the Work to Alleviate the Threat)

State: NY Type: Model Practice Year: 2005

Project SWAT creates a regional partnership to have municipalities apply larvicide in storm receiver catch basins under the direction of the Erie County Health Department, Vector Control Program. Each municipality in the County of Erie was given the opportunity in 2001 to participate in the program on a voluntary basis and has continued through 2004. The residents of Erie County are the targeted population of this program, specifically those that live in areas that are serviced by a municipal storm sewer system that utilizes storm receivers as opposed to road ditches. Project S.W.A.T. is a regional initiative, proposed by County Executive Joel Giambra and Commissioner of Health, Dr. Anthony Billittier in late 2000 following the detection of West Nile Virus in 25 birds in 2000. The Erie County Health Department was assigned the lead role in a program to train county municipalities participating on a voluntary basis in larvicide application procedures and recognition of larval habitat. The Erie County Health Department would supply the training, the NYSDEC Permit to Apply Chemicals to Control Aquatic Insects and the larvicide product. Each municipality would supply the manpower to apply the larvicide and perform record keeping.
Project SWAT addresses the public health issue and more specifically the public health threat of West Nile Virus. This issue is relevant due to the numerous dead birds, mosquito pools, and one horse found to be positive for West Nile Virus in Erie County. There also were nine human cases of West Nile Virus with one death in 2002. Project SWAT addresses this issue by attacking the primary vector species for West Nile Virus, Culex pipiens and Culex restuans in their most abundant habitat, which are storm receiver catch basins. The application of larvicide in storm receiver catch basins is a long standing practice for controlling mosquito larva in this type of habitat. The innovative approach to this practice is applying methoprene in the form of Altosid XR during a specific time frame to maximize its residual effects in controlling the primary mosquito vector during peek West Nile Virus season for this region. This practice is labor and product intensive during a very short time frame. During the course of approximately one month from June 1 to July 1, twelve municipalities applied Altosid XR Briquets to approximately 36000 storm receiver catch basins under the direction of the Erie County Health Department. This practice differs from other approaches used to address the public health issue of West Nile Virus in that it is the only possible way that an effective amount of product could be applied through regional cooperation between the Erie County Health Department and its municipalities
Agency Community RolesThe Erie County Health Department was assigned the lead role in Project SWAT. Municipalities choose to participate on a voluntary basis. The Erie County Health Department supplies the prescribed NYSDEC certified pesticide applicator training, the NYSDEC Permit to Apply Chemicals to Control Aquatic Insects and the larvicide product. Erie County Health Department personnel with DEC certification accompany each municipality for field training in larvicide application procedures and recognition of larval habitat. The specifics of this process are as follows.An intergovernmental contract was developed and executed between each municipality and the County of Erie. Pesticide Applicator Training and Field Training were completed for eleven municipalities who submitted signed contracts. One additional municipality that has had a mosquito control program for 25 years also participated. The Erie County Health Department supplied each municipality with a copy of the permit to “Apply Chemicals to Control Aquatic Insects,” and a summary sheet of each partner’s responsibilities in the program. Also supplied is the proper amount of larvicide product to complete the task Cell phone numbers of appropriate contacts in the Erie County Health Department was supplied to each municipality. They could call to answer questions as they arise and to report standing water for inspection by the Erie County Health Department, Vector Control Program.  Costs and ExpendituresCost of Project SWAT are as follows: Vector Control Program Staff time is difficult to quantify. In addition to Project SWAT, the Vector Control Program is responsible for operating a state of the art Regional mosquito identification laboratory whose services are utilized currently by eight counties in Upstate New York. The Vector Control Program is conducting an aggressive West Nile Virus/mosquito surveillance program, county wide rodent control program, Lyme disease prevention and Regional tick identification service, rabies program and 8 free vaccination clinics, and environmental air monitoring and participation on the Public Health Response Team. Resources: In-kind contributions primarily consists of the manpower provided by each of the twelve participating municipality to apply larvicide to over 36,000 storm receivers. In addition, the extraordinary efforts of Greg Ten Hoeve, Univar USA, who contributes his time to set up each Pesticide Applicator Certification Course according to DEC guidelines. The presenters for this course also contribute their time. The usual and customary cost for a 30 hour course of this kind is $675 per participant and $350 for the 12 hour course. This course is provided at no cost for all participants or Erie County.  Financial amounts include the $2.67 cost per Altosid XR Briquet which equates to $86,991.60 for the product applied to 32,630 storm receivers in 2004. No labor costs are incurred by the ECHD to apply larvicide. The funding sources for Project SWAT include: NYS reimbursement is 36% for all WNV activities performed by Vector control and all larvicide products purchased. Upon verification of a positive WNV event in Erie County, a West Nile Virus Threat is declared by the Commissioner of Health, causing NYS reimbursement increases to 50% for these activities. Remaining costs after reimbursement is incurred by the County of Erie General Fund. ImplementationThe specific tasks and timeline to achieve the program objectives of Project SWAT are as follows: January – March: Submit application for permit to “Apply Chemical to Control Aquatic Insects” to the NYSDEC. Purchase the appropriate amount of larvicide product, specifically Altosid XR briquets. Plan and organize the Pesticide Applicator Certification course. Partner with Univar USA to organize Pesticide Applicator Certification course conducted specifically to target Project SWAT participants and is opened up to all counties in the Western New York Region at no cost to participants and the ECHD. Univar USA is tasked with the job of organizing the material and presenters for the course.  Vector Control staff is tasked with the job of inviting a wide range of agencies, municipalities, businesses and individuals to attend the Pesticide Applicator Certification course. A database of all past participants has been maintained and is utilized to send out a mass mailing to all perspective participants.  All returned course registration forms are processed and entered into a database which is used to create sign in sheets to record attendance. April – June: Host, attend, conduct and participate in Regional Pesticide Applicator Certification course. Work with DEC and Univar USA to distribute appropriate course certificates.  Provide participants with all course materials to prepare for the certification exam and notification of exam dates and time.  Review permits to the DEC for specific requirements. Conduct a meeting with all Project SWAT participants to review protocol and issue Project SWAT procedure manual, review all updates and previous season issues, discuss and plan course of action and issue intergovernmental agency contracts. After receiving contracts from each Project SWAT participating municipality, larvicide is then distributed based on the number of storm receivers as reported. Project SWAT participants are directed by the Vector Control Program to begin applying larvicide June 1 with the target completion date if July 1. Progress reports are obtained weekly to monitor the timely application of larvicide. July – September: Update municipalities of any West Nile Virus positive results in their municipality.  Contact all Project SWAT participants to verify that larvicide application is complete or nearing completion.  Obtain all daily use records and maps detailing location of larvicide application in each individual municipality. Review all maps and appropriate paperwork to determine if all areas within municipality boarders have been larvicided. Contact municipality if a question or problem arises during the review process. Note that the Vector Control Program is responsible to all adult mosquito trapping, identification, and submission for virus testing; larval surveillance; dead bird surveillance; larvicide application in response to service requests and larvicide application targeting high risk locations throughout the county from May – October. October – December: Review and tabulate all larvicide used to control mosquitoes by Project SWAT participants and Vector Control Program Staff. Prepare a comprehensive “Final Report of All Larvicide Used to Control Mosquitoes” to be submitted to the NYSDEC as required by permit. Evaluate Project Swat as part of the overall West Nile Virus and Mosquito Surveillance and Control aspects of the Vector Control Program.  Utilize this information to prepare the annual West Nile Virus Report.
As elaborated in the section above, to evaluate the effectiveness of this practice, storm receiver catch basins are sampled and larvae to hatch out to determine the efficacy of the larvicide product residual and timeline, developed for application. The ECHD also did follow-up field investigations of positive West Nile Virus results, which also included sampling of any near by storm receivers to determine if they were breeding sites for the target mosquito species. By using surveillance extensively, we are able to monitor the prevalence of mosquitoes throughout the county, identify and target species most likely to transmit WNV or other emerging diseases, and use larviciding as a mechanism of reducing the mosquito populations in high risk areas and potential habitats where humans are located. Outside factors such as presence or absence of rainfall or standing water can not be controlled. However we do know the fixed locations of the 36,000 storm receivers larvicided by Project SWAT. These receivers will always be a habitat for the target mosquito species. This practice is worth the investment not only because it helps control the West Nile Virus vector species but it also helps prevent illness or potentially deaths improving the quality of life. Reducing the number of mosquitoes able to produce and potentially carrying the WNV. There is less competition for a mosquito to take a blood meal from the animal and bird population in order to procreate, therefore providing a lesser need for these mosquitoes to cross over and bite humans. In addition Project SWAT (Sharing the Work And Threat) decreases the over all financial burden on anyone government entity and increases the ability of the Erie County Health Department to have a significant impact in protecting the public’s health and reducing the risk transmission of arthropod born human disease which is our ultimate goal. There are very little risks to humans from using methoprene type larvicides, this chemical is currently approved by the World Health Organization to be used in drinking water in third world countries to control parasites and help to assure safe drinking water. Vector Controls aggressive surveillance program to determine locations and types of mosquitoes and use of education and enforcement in the remediation of larval habitats when possible, allows us the ability to reduce the amount of product needed in the environment to control target mosquito species. The ECHD Vector Control Program has demonstrated this practice has been able to achieve the goals set forth through the hard work and dedication of the Erie County Health Department and its participating municipalities.
The plans to sustain this practice over time include maintaining cooperative relationships between the ECHD, Vector Control Program and the 12 participating municipalities in Project SWAT. This also includes lobbying for continued support for the Vector Control Program as a whole and its contribution toward promoting public health.