Starting at 8pm tonight (August 8), and lasting until 6am tomorrow morning, the New York City Department of Health will be spraying pesticides from Bay Ridge to Gravesend (specifically, zip codes 11209, 11214, and 11228). This is part of the City’s controversial strategy to mitigate the risk of the West Nile Virus, which is transmitted to humans by mosquitos.
West Nile virus, which first appeared in the United States here in New York in 1999, is an illness that causes no symptoms in 80% of the people it infects, but can cause severe effects in 0.07% of its victims. Extreme symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis (CDC).
The City’s spray program has come under fire since its inception in the Giuliani Administration by activists that contend that it kills animals and insects besides mosquitos – including the natural predators of mosquitos – sickens humans, remains in the environment for an extended period of time, and increases the resistance to pesticides by mosquitos (Washington Square Park Blog).