SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A mosquito attack in a Sacramento neighborhood to go after the West Nile Virus is raising concerns because of a chemical that pregnant women have been told to avoid.
The low-flying plane sprayed neighborhoods around Land Park through midnight on Monday for the first time in two years.
The move comes after the Sacramento-Yolo Vector Control District noticed a significant uptick in dead birds and mosquitoes testing positive for the potentially deadly virus.
“We need to act quickly to decrease the abundance of potentially infected adult mosquitoes that could pose a threat to public health,” said Luz Rodriguez.
But there are renewed questions about whether Trumpet, an organophosphate, harms more than it helps.
CBS13 reported on a UC Davis study last week warning pregnant women of the risk of organophosphates. The study links exposure to the chemicals to an 60-percent increased risk of autism.
“As a physician, I’m concerned, because organophosphates have a lot of symptoms,” said Dr. Kelly Sutton. “More people are put at risk than are helped.”
Sutton says while the virus affects a tiny sliver of the population, the insecticide could carry harmful side effects for many. She says in light of the UC Davis study, the chemical shouldn’t be used.
“And in extreme cases, unconsciousness, convulsions and severe respiratory depression and death may occur, so it’s a poison,” she said.
The district says their dosage—the equivalent of an ounce on a football field—is small enough to only impact mosquitoes and smaller insects.
Asked directly about the new study, they say they’re aware of it, but point out the insecticide is EPA approved.
“There’s only two classes of mosquito control products we can use, and this one has been used extensively throughout the United States.” Rodriguez said.