A Web-Based Review of Environmental Health Vector Control Services in the United States

By Ruiz, Andrew; Vanover, Christine et al. | Journal of Environmental Health, April 2018 | Go to article overview

A Web-Based Review of Environmental Health Vector Control Services in the United States


Ruiz, Andrew, Vanover, Christine, Parale, Alexis, Gerding, Justin, Journal of Environmental Health


By October 25, 2017, the U.S. and its territories documented 42,629 cases of Zika virus disease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Zika renewed the need and importance for mosquito control in local jurisdictions. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) estimates that approximately half of local health departments in the U.S. provide vector control services (NACCHO, 2017a). While vector (i.e., mosquito, tick, and rodent) control is widely viewed as an environmental health responsibility, little is known about the services performed by environmental health vector control (EHVC) programs.

To learn more, we began with a list of mosquito control programs across the U.S. and used a structured web-based review process to identify the types of services EHVC programs offer. We used our findings to provide recommendations about how environmental health programs and professionals can strengthen their role in vector control with environmental health practices.

We reviewed 1,210 mosquito control programs from a preliminary list of programs identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Division of Vector-Borne Disease in spring 2017. We examined each mosquito control program's website, social media pages, and related news articles for information about agency and program characteristics (Table 1). We also noted whether programs addressed vectors other than mosquitoes (i.e., rodents and ticks). Out of the 1,210 programs reviewed, only 964 had information about vector control services online. Local health departments operated the majority of the 964 programs (n = 408, 42%), followed by mosquito control districts (n = 266, 28%), public works departments (n = 189, 20%), and other local government agencies (n = 101, 10%). Of the 408 local health departments providing vector control services, 360 local health departments had environmental health programs providing those services (Figure 1). This result emphasizes the important role that environmental health professionals could have in influencing the direction and scope of vector control services in the country.

Environmental Health Vector Control Program Services and Activities

A large number of local health departments provide vector control services. Our study suggested that the majority of this activity was the responsibility of environmental health. This investigation gave better insight into the types of services EHVC programs offer. On average, EHVC programs performed 2.3 of the 9 services and activities (Table 1) considered in this study. While this number was lower than the 3.6 performed by all other program types, EHVC programs stood out in a few key ways.

* More EHVC programs performed rodent and tick services than other program types. EHVC represented 62% of the programs performing rodent services and 39% of the programs offering tick services.

* EHVC programs prioritized mosquito monitoring. Nearly 79% of EHVC programs mentioned performing mosquito surveillance.

* EHVC programs performed more mosquito larval control than adult control when compared with other program types. Thirty-four percent mentioned larval control while only 23% mentioned performing adult control.

In addition, a small fraction (8%) of mosquito control programs, regardless of type, mentioned conducting any form of pesticide resistance testing. This finding is consistent with NACCHO's 2017 assessment of mosquito control services and is an opportunity for improvement across all vector control agencies (NACCHO, 2017b).

Environmental health programs and professionals are responsible for delivering a wide range of services, and vector control might be one of the most important. Developing a strong understanding of EHVC program structure, capacity, and service delivery is essential to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. This web-based review gave a snapshot of vector control programs and their activities by using a convenience sample of programs and relying upon the information available online, which varied significantly among the programs. …

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A Web-Based Review of Environmental Health Vector Control Services in the United States
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