Concern about an increase in mosquito activity and a potential public health threat prompted plans for an unscheduled spraying of insecticide in part of Abingdon Tuesday evening.
The spraying by truck will take place in the vicinity of Emmorton Road (Route 924) and Singer Road, including parts of the Norris Corner and Abingdon neighborhoods, according to the Maryland Department of the Agriculture.
The department conducts both scheduled and unscheduled spraying across the state, including in Harford County, MDA spokesperson Jason Shellhardt said. Unscheduled spraying occurs only in response to a “public health threat,” according to the department’s website.
Tuesday’s unscheduled spraying in Abingdon is in response to “suspicion of mosquito activity and mosquito borne disease,” according to Shellhardt, who said the spraying is being done in partnership with the Harford County Health Department.
“The communities were determined due to the public health concern over the potential of mosquito-borne disease,” Molly Mraz, spokesperson for the Harford County Health Department, wrote in an email Tuesday morning. “Then, communities are sprayed in a three-fourths mile radius which will mitigate any potential health threat.”
According to an advisory issued Monday afternoon by MDA, the Abingdon spraying will occur after 7:30 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, spraying will be rescheduled for the next available evening.
Any existing spray exemptions in the area will be temporarily suspended, the advisory states.
Mosquito Control personnel will use a permethrin-based solution that the EPA has approved for use in public health mosquito control programs without posing unreasonable risks to human health.
Out of an abundance of caution, however, MDA recommends avoiding outdoor activities during spraying.
Residents are encouraged to follow MDA’s Twitter feed @MdAgMosquito that will post unscheduled spray events and other timely information about mosquito control in Maryland. Routine spray program schedules are available by county on the program's website.
For more information, call the Department of Agriculture’s Mosquito Control Program at 410-841-5870.
Mosquitos carry a number of diseases harmful to humans, most prominently West Nile virus, from which there has been at least one reported death in Harford County in recent years, and Zika virus which is typically not fatal but can cause birth defects if transmitted by a pregnant woman to her fetus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Approximately 20 Harford County communities are in regular rotation for the MDA’s scheduled seasonal mosquito spraying which takes place weekly from May through September. Most of these places are in the central and southern areas of the county in areas such as Bel Air, Joppa, Edgewood and Perryman.
Every year, about 2,000 communities in 16 counties across the state voluntarily participate in this program, sharing the cost with the state, according to MDA. Mosquito populations in these communities are regularly monitored. When/if the adult mosquito population gets too large and/or dangerous to public health, truck mounted spraying is done.
Residents who live in a community that participates in the scheduled spraying program can request that their property be excluded, and this can be done through the MDA website.
While not all mosquitoes carry diseases, the Maryland Department of Agriculture suggests that residents take precautions to minimize their exposure to mosquito bites, including:
Wear long, loose fitting, light colored clothing;
Wear insect repellents according to product labels;
Avoid mosquito infested areas during prime periods of activity (between dusk and dawn);
Install, inspect and repair window and door screens in homes and stables;
Regularly clean birdbaths and bowls for pet food and water; and
Remove or empty all water-holding containers.