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Public Health Confronts the Mosquito: Developing Sustainable State and Local Mosquito Control Programs

Report by Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

See "What You Can Do About Mosquito Control"

Report Overview

State and Local Mosquito Control

Mosquito control is an important and basic public health function. The rapid spread of West Nile virus across the U.S. in the last five years demonstrates the continuing need for organized mosquito control activities. States and local communities are challenged to develop and maintain these essential vector control programs, especially in tight budgetary times and when emergency situations have quieted. 

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials’ Mosquito Control Collaborative, a body comprised of state, local, and federal representatives from public health, environmental, and agricultural agencies, as well as other organizations closely involved with vector control and public health, has developed a report titled Public Health Confronts the Mosquito Control: Developing Sustainable State and Local Mosquito Control Programs. The report contains four sections discussing the major components of successful state and local mosquito control efforts:

Planning Ahead
Understanding the structures and roles of the state, local and federal participants, defining workforce and training requirements, identifying legal authorities and funding alternatives, and developing strategies for evaluating programs are elements that should be included in any successful planning effort. States, localities, and the federal government all have active roles in mosquito control. The exact roles of each will differ among the individual states and localities. Whatever structure is chosen, it should be based on solid legal authority to act. The structure of the funding mechanism for mosquito control activities also impacts the ultimate sustainability of the program or activities.

Involving Others
The foundation to any successful mosquito control action is involving key participants early in the process. Governments should develop a strategy for involving others, which includes identifying and engaging a wide variety of stakeholders. Governments should take care to identify the individuals, organizations, and agencies with a stake in mosquito control decisions. A variety of mechanisms should be used to target appropriate outreach to stakeholders. Special care should also be given to provide decision makers with solid information upon which to base policy.

Use the Best Science and Data
It is critical that science drives the assessment of local and state needs, strategies selected, and design and monitoring of mosquito control programs. There are numerous proven methodologies and practices that guide the best mosquito control programs. All programs need to be based on an identified need that is matched with local and state resources and technically sound strategies. Access to epidemiologic capacity to conduct surveillance of mosquito-borne diseases in the human population, and monitor disease and the distribution of relevant animal and insect populations, is critical to begin any mosquito control activity. States and localities must also determine their mosquito control needs. A scientific response to combat nuisance mosquitoes may look very different from a program to combat mosquitoes carrying disease.

Informing the Public
Mosquito control programs need the support of an informed public. Many of the successful strategies for control involve individuals, their families, and their neighborhoods. The public also has concerns about the problems related to mosquito populations and about insecticides and spraying. Development of a communications plan that includes public education about preventing the breeding of mosquitoes, personal protection guidance, and the activities and success of the agencies involved is critical to the success of the program.

Mosquito control is a multi-discipline effort that can and should involve many agencies and organizations at the local, state, and federal level. When programs are started for a specific disease threat, there is often a temptation to abandon control efforts once the threat has passed. As history demonstrates, the mighty mosquito always returns and frequently with a previously unknown and unpredictable disease threat. Public health has a responsibility and an opportunity to be part of a comprehensive and thoughtful approach to continued mosquito control through partnerships and teamwork at all levels of government.

More information about state and local mosquito control programs and a copy of Public Health Confronts the Mosquito is available at The report also contains Planning and Action checklists highlighting the major decision points and recommendations.

Source: Public Health Confronts the Mosquito: Developing Sustainable State and Local Mosquito Control Programs. Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. (June 2005). Available at

What You Can Do About Mosquito Control

  • Find out about your local mosquito control program

Contact them for information or questions about their mosquito control practices.

  • Support mosquito control activities

Report mosquito breeding sites untended pools, discarded tires, drainage ditches with standing water.

  • If your community doesn't have a mosquito control program

Contact your local government officials (blue pages of the phone book) or health department. Information in the Public Health Confront the Mosquito (described above) provides guidance about starting a program.


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