Cumberland County to hear out mosquito-spraying opponents, but will spray anyway

CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) – So far this year, dozens of mosquitoes have tested positive for the West Nile Virus in the Midstate, but some residents say mosquito control can be dangerous too.

The controversy surrounds green space at Willow Park in Camp Hill.

The question for neighbors, which is worse? The risk of West Nile, or the chemicals it takes to reduce that risk?

Some of those neighbors let Cumberland County know how they feel.

“The office started to receive some phone calls and emails, and we also some some stuff going on on social media,” said Megan Silverstrim, communications specialist for the county

One Facebook thread ran 80-some comments deep, most of them against spraying at the park. The common theme was the need to protect people and wildlife from chemical exposure.

This was last week, and Friday, due to the uproar, the county postponed what it called a “routine spraying” that was supposed to happen Monday.

It coupled that announcement with a letter, which explained the reasoning behind spraying for mosquitoes, as well as provided some background on the chemical.

Permethrin, the letter states, the active ingredient in the spray they use, is used in many flea and tick treatments people use on their pets. It continues, studies have shown there’s no “unreasonable risk” to human health.

County leaders announced Monday they’ll hold a public meeting at the borough offices Wednesday at 4 p.m. to address concerns and answer questions.

However, the spraying will still happen right after the meeting.

“It is going to occur,” Silverstrim said. “We have a responsibility to the public that we serve.”

So far this year, 12 mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile in Cumberland County. That’s more than most of the Midstate, except York County, which has a whopping 47 positive tests, the most in the state.

“It’s really important that we treat this because it is an illness out there that can really impact people,” said Silverstrim. “So we’ve got to keep the mosquito population in control.”

Silverstrim added it’s a cost-benefit situation, that the county believes the benefits of spraying outweigh the risks.

Some opponents want what they consider a safer solution.

Silverstrim also said she doesn’t remember another instance of such adamant opposition that led to delays in the mosquito spraying schedule.

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