The need for organized mosquito abatement operations in the City of New Orleans was driven by a habitat uniquely suited to produce overwhelming mosquito populations, disease epidemics, and public outcry.
Nineteenth Century Disease Outbreaks
Yellow fever killed over 41,000 New Orleanians from 1817 to 1905, with peak outbreaks in 1853, 1858, 1867, and 1878. During this time, residents of New Orleans evacuated seasonally for fear of contracting this deadly disease, rather than hurricanes.
In 1905, following a tremendous effort by scientists to link disease transmission to mosquito vectors, the first area-wide mosquito control program in the City of New Orleans was implemented. Efforts focused on eliminating breeding sites, screening and treating cisterns, and public education. These efforts proved successful with no human cases of Yellow fever reported in the City following 1905. In the years to come, public attention turned from Yellow fever to Malaria. Formal eradication efforts led by the United States Public Health Services in cooperation with several southern states continued until 1954.
Twentieth Century Regulation
Public outcry in the mid 1940s and 50s over large populations of the salt marsh mosquito prompted then Mayor deLesseps S. Morrison to form the Metropolitan Mosquito Control Commission (MMCC). In 1957, it became the Louisiana Mosquito Control Association under the direction of Dr. Edward S. Hathaway and Anderson B. Ritter. Their work in the early 1960s demonstrated the success of ditching and impoundment to eliminate standing water and illustrated the possibility of effective local mosquito control efforts.
Into the Twenty-First Century: New Orleans Mosquito Control Board
In May 1964, George T. Carmichael of the Chatham County (Georgia) Mosquito Control Commission was hired as the first director of the City of New Orleans Mosquito Control Board a position he held until he retired in 1986. During the initial years, widespread efforts were made to eliminate tires, swales, and other breeding sites.
Edgar S. Bordes Jr. assumed the directors role in 1986.