Maricopa County won’t begin aerial mosquito spraying to combat the Valley’s escalating West Nile virus epidemic until next week at the earliest — if at all, officials said Thursday.
The county officials spent Thursday meeting with prospective vendors and will give their recommendations to the County Board of Supervisors, which has the final say on whether to spray, said Al Brown, director of the county’s Environmental Services.
If the supervisors go forward with the aerial spraying, then whichever vendor is chosen can begin spraying within 24 to 48 hours, Brown said.
Also Thursday, officials from the county Department of Public Health held a 25-minute conference call with East Valley mayors to discuss possible aerial fogging.
"We gave them assurances that they’d be notified well in advance and we would always work with them," said Doug Hauth, health department spokesman.
Scottsdale isn’t pursuing plans to spray the city by air. "It’s a day-to-day situation," said city spokesman Mike Phillips.
The air-attack method could be a possibility should experts see a spike in the mosquito population, he said.
Scottsdale’s field services and parks crews, with the help of county officials, have no evidence there is an imminent threat of a West Nile virus outbreak in the city, he said.
Scottsdale in May began implementing a mosquitocontrol program. The plan included draining floodcontrol basins, including those at the 160-acre WestWorld of Scottsdale. The city also regularly treats the chain of lakes along Indian Bend Wash.
Another option would be to increase the county’s ground application of pesticides, or fogging, which has been in effect for months, but that would still take more time than by air.
"The most important thing is to reduce human disease," and minimize deaths, Brown said.
The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised the county Wednesday to begin aerial spraying because using "only ground-based pesticide applications will not be adequate."
Arizona leads the nation this year in confirmed human West Nile virus infections.
This year there have been 232 confirmed cases of West Nile virus and two deaths.
Spraying would be done by airplanes at an altitude of 200 feet over 2,000 square miles, mostly in metro areas and late at night, according to Brown and John Townsend, County Vector Control manager.
Brown said the pesticide is the safest on the market for this type of mosquito control and "there should be no noticeable after effects."
Who to call
For information on areas to be fogged with mosquito-killing pesticides, call the Maricopa County Vector Control Fogging Hotline: (602) 372-3000.
- Tribune writers Nick Martin and Bill Bertolino contributed to this report.