The Ledge Light Health District, covering portions of New London County, is offering a free mosquito control treatment for residents.
"Starting off by not allowing the mosquito population to increase is the best way to prevent anyone from getting sick in the first place," said Joseph Blanchard, who helps manage the program.
The treatment is offered annually and is available from the start of the mosquito season, in early spring, through to the first frost. This year, according to Blanchard, the department is hoping to broaden the program's scope. He said that it is an under-utilized resource.
"It is important just to control the population, starting at the beginning of the season especially in residential areas because that is where people get affected the most," said Blanchard.
The treatment is called a mosquito dunk. The dunk is a larvicide designed to lessen the potential of mosquito-borne illnesses including West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and Zika Virus, according to a press release from LLHD. The mosquito dunks are used in standing water such as ponds, wetland areas, pool covers and other areas of stagnant water that cannot be removed.
"That is where mosquitoes breed. They will lay their eggs and then produce the larva and they will grow up, fly off and infect," said Blanchard.
At no cost and upon request, LLHD will visit a residence in the towns they cover and assess standing water issues. If the water cannot be removed, LLHD will conduct the initial treatment with mosquito dunks, throwing the dunk in the water and waiting for it to dissolve. The health district also gives the resident a pack of dunks to last them for the season, as long as their supply lasts.
Anna Sullivan, from Mystic, received the treatment on Monday. She said that her friend signed her up. After hearing about last year's EEE outbreak in Connecticut and noticing more mosquitoes, she requested the service for the pond behind her home.
"I was standing out here the other night talking to a friend of mine for like an hour and we just got eaten alive," said Sullivan.
After a deadly outbreak of EEE last year, the state has added 16 new mosquito trap sites in the eastern half of the state. Scientists have tested more than 40,000 mosquitoes so far this year and have not detected West Nile or EEE. They do expect EEE to emerge again this year.
The mosquito dunks do not prevent mosquito-borne illnesses, but they do prevent mosquito populations from growing.
“From the start, the easiest way to prevent people from getting sick and getting illnesses from mosquitoes is to prevent the mosquitoes," said Blanchard.
For more information on LLHD's Mosquito Control Program, call Joseph Blanchard at 860-448-4882 ext. 1308 or Patti Myers at 860-434-1605 ext. 214.