"Infectious diseases are now spreading geographically much faster than at any time in history."
Margaret Chan, MD WHO Director-General
The emergence and spread of West Nile Virus may be the first in a series of exotic diseases imported due to the worldwide increase in eco-tourism and international air travel. Malaria, Rift Valley Fever, Chikungunya Virus and dengue fever are but a plane flight away, and public health officials at all levels are becoming increasingly concerned. As our world continues to shrink, mosquito control in the United States will assume a more critical public health function - well beyond its quality of life role.
To meet these coming threats, the operational mosquito control profession in the United States, comprising over 350 local and state agencies, continues to mobilize its resources and perfect its prevention and control techniques - the safest, most comprehensive and effective of their kind in the world.
The integrated mosquito management methods currently employed by organized control districts and endorsed by the CDC and EPA are comprehensive and specifically tailored to safely counter each stage of the mosquito life cycle. Larval control through water management and source reduction, where compatible with other land management uses, is a prudent pest management alternative - as is use of the environmentally friendly EPA-registered larvicides currently available. When source elimination or larval control measures are clearly inadequate, or in the case of imminent disease, the EPA and CDC have emphasized in a published joint statement the need for considered application of adulticides by certified applicators trained in the specialized handling characteristics of these products.
Despite intense pressures to eliminate the use of public health insecticides, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and other public health agencies agree that it is essential that these products remain available for disease prevention. Indeed, they emphasize that proper use of mosquitocides by established mosquito control agencies does not put the general public or the environment at unreasonable risk from runoff, leaching or drift when used according to label specifications.
We already have the mosquitoes. We are continually importing the diseases they carry. We must be prepared to prevent their becoming part of our public health landscape. That requires safe, effective, sustained mosquito control. However, continued public support is crucial for the success of each of these efforts. We will all pay the price for complacency.
Disease prevention through preparedness remains the mosquito control profession’s primary focus, and is fully consistent with the very finest traditions of public health. Yet, the continued increase in worldwide tourism and trade virtually guarantees further challenges from exotic diseases requiring ready control expertise to prevent their establishment and spread. Should these emerging mosquito-borne diseases of man and animals settle into the American public health landscape, particularly as an unintended consequence of environmental policy initiatives, we will have only ourselves to blame, for we have the means to control these diseases within our grasp. We must remain prepared to accept and meet these challenges—our citizens and our nation’s wildlife deserve no less.