Insecticides reduce vector-borne pathogen transmission but also pose health risks. In August 2005, Sacramento County, California, underwent emergency aerial ultralow-volume (ULV) application of pyrethrin insecticide to reduce the population of West Nile virus (WNV)-infected mosquitoes and thereby interrupt enzootic and tangential transmission. We assessed the association between aerially applied pyrethrin insecticide and patterns of emergency department (ED) visit diagnoses.
We used geographic information systems software to determine ZIP Code-level exposure to pyrethrin. We used logistic regression models to examine the relationship between exposure status and three-digit International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Edition, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes (785 in total) for all ED visits (n=253,648) within Sacramento County in 2005 and for specific diagnostic clusters (e.g., respiratory, gastrointestinal, skin, eye, and neurologic). All models were adjusted for age, gender, race/ethnicity (individual level), median income, ozone, and temperature (ZIP Code level).
Exposure to aerially applied insecticide was not associated with clusters of respiratory, gastrointestinal, skin, eye, and neurologic complaints in adjusted models but was inversely associated with ICD-9-CM code 799 ("other ill-defined morbidity and mortality"), with adjusted odds ratios (AORs) ranging from 0.31 to 0.36 for 0-3 lag days (95% confidence interval 0.17, 0.68). Spraying was also directly associated with ICD-9-CM code 553 ("other abdominal hernia"), with AORs ranging from 2.34 to 2.96 for 2-3 lag days.
The observed significant ICD-9-CM code associations likely represented chance findings. Aerial ULV pyrethrin applications were not associated with ED visits for specific diagnoses or clusters of diagnoses.