Science & Tech

Strong public support for spraying against mosquitoes

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Many Americans in high-mosquito areas think their family likely to get West Nile virus

The opening study of the Project on Biological Security and the Public found that one-third (33 percent) of Americans who live in areas where there are a lot of mosquitoes think they or a family member is very (9 percent) or somewhat (24 percent) likely to get sick from the virus in the next 12 months. In addition, 32 percent of dog owners in high-mosquito areas were concerned that their dog might get the West Nile virus. In those high-mosquito areas where there has been special spraying against mosquitoes to prevent the spread of the West Nile virus, nine in 10 (91 percent) approve of the spraying. Nationwide, three-fourths (77 percent) of Americans said they would favor special spraying to prevent the spread of West Nile if it appeared in their area. “The public has become sufficiently concerned about the West Nile virus that they are willing to take some risk on mosquito spraying, a controversial issue in many areas,” said Robert J. Blendon, professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health. The project was funded through the federally-supported Center for Public Health Preparedness at the Harvard School of Public Health.