Vector Control in the Greater El Paso Community
The City of El Paso maintains an active vector control team, which is part of the Health & Safety Program of the Code Compliance Division within the Environmental Services Department. The team is responsible for a variety of inspections and activities within the City of El Paso, in addition to providing service to the County of El Paso and other local municipalities within the County, as identified in interlocal agreements between the City of El Paso and these entities.
What is a Vector?
A vector is defined as any agent (person, animal or micro-organism) that carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism.
In the case of the vector control team, trapping, sampling, abatement, treatment, inspection and enforcement activities are directed toward protecting the greater El Paso community from diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and rodents.
The vector control team only addresses issues related to potential vectors (mosquitoes and rodents). Not all insects are vectors.
Mosquitoes are known carriers (vectors) of many diseases harmful to humans, including the West Nile Virus, which can prove deadly to children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. In an effort to control the breeding of mosquitoes and to minimize their impact on area residents, the following activities are conducted in the El Paso area:
Trapping – Mosquito traps are placed at different locations around the City, usually in areas where past analysis has shown the likelihood for mosquito breeding, and also based on citizen request for trapping in a given area.
Larvacide Application – Larvicides are products used to kill immature mosquitoes before they become adults. They can be either biological (such as toxin from specific bacteria that is lethal to mosquito larvae but not to other organisms) or chemical products, such as insect growth regulators, surface films, or organophoshates. Larvicides are applied directly to water sources that hold mosquito eggs, larvae or pupae. When used well, larvicides can help to reduce the overall mosquito burden by limiting the number of new mosquitoes that are produced.
Adulticide Applications – Adulticides are products used to kill adult mosquitoes. Adulticides can be applied from hand-held sprayers, truck-mounted sprayers or using airplanes. Adulticides, when used well, can have an immediate impact to reduce the number of adult mosquitoes in an area, with the goal of reducing the number of infected mosquitoes that can bite people and possibly transmit West Nile Virus.
Pools and Standing Water on Private Properties
Failure of an owner or occupant to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes in water on privately owned properties in the City may result in a violation of Chapter 9.24 of the El Paso City Code. Often, a notice of correction is issued to the owner or occupant, and if not corrected, a citation may be issued, involving a fine or appearance in Municipal Court.
During the 2013 Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, Senate Bill No. 186 was passed, allowing municipalities to treat, without notice to the property owner, certain cases of mosquito breeding in standing water at vacant residential properties. This law is currently under review by the City Attorney, in order to assist the Environmental Services Department with developing a mosquito abatement policy and procedure which adheres to the law.
Rats are known vectors of many diseases dangerous to humans, so proper controls must be put in place to minimize their presence and travel within buildings in El Paso. Persons who are responsible for businesses in the City are required to follow certain requirements to prevent harboring of rats and the entry of rats onto the premises. Vector control conducts inspections to enforce the provisions of the El Paso City Code, Chapter 9.28 (Rat Control) to ensure that these methods are being followed by business owners in the City.
In addition to the inspections and activities listed above, the vector control team also frequently encounters the following issues:
Insect infestation cases are addressed according to the City’s Property Maintenance Code, they are not considered a vector control activity.
Bedbugs & Bees
Due to the fact that bedbugs and bees are not considered vectors, the vector control team does not respond to bedbug issues. The appropriate avenue to address cases of a bedbug infestation is to consult with a pest exterminator, who can advise and treat as needed.