In a particularly active year for mosquitos, and a deadly year for the West Nile Virus, one might think that parts of Maryland with plenty of water—like eastern Baltimore County—might be first in line for a state mosquito spraying program.
"We know that the waterfront's always prone to mosquito activity," County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins said in an interview in her Towson office early this week. "I just don't understand it."
Earlier this month, state crews sprayed for mosquitos in Catonsville and Pikesville, with one more spraying scheduled for Pikesville on Oct. 1. So why haven't they sprayed on the east side?
The answer boils down to priorities and logistics. Mike Cantwell, program manager for the mosquito control section in the Maryland Department of Agriculture, said the spraying program for Baltimore County, once run out of a State Highway Administration facility in Dundalk, is without a home for the season.
Its former staging area had been condemned, Cantwell said, and he said state and county officials hope to have a new home for the spraying program by the time the 2013 mosquito season rolls around.
Until then, Cantwell said, the department is only equipped to spray in the county in cases where a human case of West Nile Virus has been confirmed.
"They have plenty of mosquitos [in eastern Baltimore County], but our ability to provide these services is extremely limited," he said, adding that an Anne Arundel County-based crew handled the sprayings on the west side.
Maryland has reported two deaths from West Nile Virus in the past two months, though state officials have not specified where in Maryland the deaths occured. Most people infected with West Nile won't show any symptoms, but 1 in 150 people will experience severe, possibly fatal complications, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Read more on the CDC website.
Bevins, an Oliver Beach Democrat, said the state's crews should spray on the east side before a public health risk occurs.
"We can not have this happen again next year," she said.
Sending crews in from other counties to do routine sprayings, however, would be "very ineffective," Cantwell said.
"We don't have spare equipment and people to be doing that," he said.