Posted 10/18/16 (Tue)
By Cecile Wehrman
Members of the Crosby City Council earlier this month expressed interest in joining the Williston Vector Control District.
Crosby would receive the benefit of knowledge and experience the Williston district has amassed over 49 years in operation, said Fran Bosch, director.
While city council members, and Mayor Bert Anderson in particular, expressed interest in joining forces, Bosch said Crosby’s membership will hinge on Divide County joining as well.
That’s because vector control districts must be contiguous, he said.
Bosch came to the city’s Oct. 2 meeting to present information about the district and why it makes sense for it to grow.
“It’s not that we need the money,” he said, but because “the larger a vector control district is, the more effective it is.”
Bosch said larger districts buy more pesticides and other goods and services at less cost. They also have better access to grants and success in receiving them.
“It’s easier to get monies when you not only cover a broader spectrum of the population, but a larger geographic area,” he said.
When it comes to public health emergencies, such as the Zika virus and West Nile Virus (WNV), a single entity can respond quicker, he added.
The Williston district already has three pilots and four aircraft, which are resources it would be difficult for a smaller district to maintain.
“What we do is science based and surveillance driven,” with adulticide spraying being triggered whenever traps identify 10 or more of a particular virus-carrying mosquito.
The district also is using new technology allowing them to identify WNV-positive mosquitos using a card reader.
“It will show after a few minutes if the virus is present or not,” said Bosch.
Any time a WNV positive is found, it triggers a spray event.
He said they use all natural pesticides derived from chrysanthemums.
If Crosby decided to join the district, he said it would require seasonal work by a few people, likely, interns.
“We have a very good track record with that,” he said, working with a network of universities in Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana and the Dakotas to find intern candidates.
Mayor Anderson said Bosch’s enthusiasm for the program is a big positive.
“Anytime anyone is enthused about getting rid of mosquitos, I am very happy,” Anderson said. “From my standpoint, this is something we definitely should pursue and whatever it takes to coordinate this, I am 100 percent behind this.”
Bosch said the district already includes McKenzie County and Watford City.
For Crosby, control would include aerial spraying of the city and a two or three mile perimeter. Ditches would have treatment of standing water with a bacteria that is not harmful but stops larvae from hatching.
“The problem we’ve got up here . . . if you go up in the air and look, there’s water almost everywhere,” said Crosby City Councilman Steve Dhuyvetter.
Bosch answered, “With the county program, we wouldn’t be covering all of those, but we would be covering the right of ways.”
Another big benefit, he said, is being able to treat ahead of special events, such as Crosby’s 2017 celebration.
Bosch said counties may levy up to 1 mill per year for vector control. The cost in cities may be about $4 per month per household.
Unlike programs elsewhere, he said, “We’re not going to spray these folks unnecessarily. We don’t fire up the fog truck every Thursday night just because it’s Thursday night.”
Bosch said it’s clear from the Department of Health’s weekly count in Crosby that there is a mosquito problem and because of the amount of wildlife, the potential for spreading disease is present.
“You have a lot of waterfowl around . . . you have a good bank of birds that carry this stuff around from place to place.”
Bosch presented information to Divide County Commissioners in September and he said he will be following up with them to find out their willingness to participate.