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Harder Raises Alarm On Potential Mosquito Infestation
Josh Harder
Josh Harder - photo by Photo Contributed

Earlier this month, Rep. Josh Harder (CA-9) sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director about the public health threat posed by rapid mosquito population growth associated with standing water from floods. The Central Valley has dealt with historic flooding this year and is now bracing for more flooding when the snowpack melts this summer. An increase in standing water coinciding with mosquito season could be a perfect storm creating breeding grounds for dangerous mosquito species and causing upticks in Zika, West Nile Virus, and other mosquito-borne diseases.

“We all know the misery of getting eaten alive by mosquitoes when we’re walking the dog or watching our kids at the playground,” said Rep. Harder. “The last thing we need is to have those bites turn into a public health crisis. We have to prepare now to keep the mosquito population under control so we can enjoy our summers and keep our loved ones safe.”

In the letter, sent out May 18, Harder sought the director’s “guidance on how communities like mine can minimize mosquito population growth after large-scale flooding.”

Harder added that California has been dealing with historic flooding that is impacting communities all across the state, such as Acampo, where flood water resulting from January storms sat above ground for weeks.

“Our communities are now bracing for a historic snowpack melt, with parts of the Sierra Mountains holding anywhere from 279-447 percent of the annual average of snow water. With mosquito season coinciding with the historic snowpack melt, the increase in stagnant water means more breeding grounds for dangerous mosquito species and upticks in potential for Zika, West Nile Virus, and other mosquito-borne diseases,” Harder wrote.

Noting the EPA collaborates with the Centers for Disease Control on mosquito control activities, Harder said he was “reaching out to better understand” several points.

Those include:

How does the EPA work to curb population growth and the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases?

How does the EPA apply an integrated pest management approach when dealing with an emergency such as the recent flooding in California?

How would the EPA advise localities to deal with the threat of acute mosquito population growth stemming from standing flood water?

“The EPA plays a critical role in controlling mosquito populations. Knowing that mosquitoes can develop from an egg to biting people in as little as five days, it’s critical that EPA collaborates with communities like the ones in my district,” said Harder. “This work will ensure that communities that are at-risk of flooding have the latest guidance on how to prevent and mitigate mosquito population growth and illnesses that inevitably come with flooding.”