Camden County Will Use Fish To Restrict Mosquito Population

17 June 2017, 7:30 am EDT By Andrew Norman Tech Times
Camden County Health Department adopted a unique method in its fight against growing mosquito population. The county decided to release mosquito larvae-eating fish into the stagnant water bodies to restrict the population from growing.  ( Getty Images )

Mosquito-borne diseases are rising in the United States, which is worrying many state health officials. Drastic measures are being taken to ensure that Zika, encephalitis, and spread of other such diseases can be contained.

Camden County in New Jersey is approaching the problem of eliminating mosquitoes in a unique manner. The state's health department decided to use fish to control and reduce the growing mosquito population.

Camden County To Use Fish To Control Mosquito Population

On Thursday, June 15, Camden County Health Department and the Camden County Mosquito Control Commission announced that they would partner to release thousands of small fish into the stagnant water bodies across the county.

While the announcement was being made, four large tanks filled with water stood nearby. These four tanks contained killifish and fathead minnows, which would be released into the stagnant water bodies. Each adult fish can consume hundreds of mosquito larvae in a day. Health officials believe that this will keep the mosquito numbers in check and prevent mosquito-borne diseases.

This is not the first time that Camden County used fish to control mosquito population. In 2016, the county's health department released around 200,000 fish into stagnant water bodies. This year, the goal was to release a higher number of fish, since the initiative was started earlier than it was in 2016.

The fish will be released in any stagnant water body ranging from abandoned pools in a house's backyard to lakes and marshes.

"It's not streams, it's not rivers. That's moving water. That's not the issue. Standing water is the issue," Camden County's Director of Environmental Affairs Jack Sworaski said.

Adopting The Fish Initiative To Restrict Mosquito Population

The county's Mosquito Commission receives fish from the state hatcheries. Health representatives from all over the South Jersey counties come to the Commission to collect the fish and, therefore, the initiative spread to other counties on the state's southern border.

The state pays the $3,000 cost for distribution and other minor expenses, which are incurred while releasing the fish into the stagnant water bodies.

Camden County also sprays each neighborhood and residential areas every morning so that the mosquito population can be kept in check.

"Going out and spraying in the community not only fights the mosquitoes breeding there, but it allows us to check on different parts of the county and identify where we can concentrate more pointed efforts to lower and control the mosquito population," Sworaski remarked.

One person from the Passaic County died in 2017 from encephalitis, while there were three deaths from the West Nile virus in the last two years.

Although the mosquitoes populating New Jersey did not carry the Zika virus, health officials are wary of the same and are prepared to deal with it if the need arises.

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