Mosquito numbers way down in MitchellThreat of West Nile remains, expert says.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
While Mitchell has been mired in a long, hot, dry summer, there has been a benefit to this weather: There are few mosquitoes. The city has yet to do a citywide fogging, said Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Dusty Rodiek.
“Knock on wood, no,” Rodiek said Wednesday. “We’ve done some isolated fogging if we’ve got a large group of people somewhere.”
There are 150 breeds of mosquitoes in the United States. They feed off the blood of animals and use that to form their eggs.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, often targeting pools of stagnant water.
During the rainy spring and summer of 2010, the city of Mitchell fogged repeatedly in an effort to reduce mosquito numbers. It was a summer filled with slaps and stings, and park attendance was reduced by the mosquito numbers.
So far this year, the mosquito traps in city parks don’t show a large number.
“So low, it’s doesn’t even really register,” Rodiek said.
City government will save $20,000 that was budgeted for fogging, Rodiek said, and his crews have time for other chores.
He has only been with the city since the spring of 2010 but said it appears this is one of the few times the city has gone this deep into summer without having to fog for mosquitoes.
If the numbers increase, he said, the city will fog.
The reduced number of mosquitoes in the state doesn’t mean the risk of acquiring West Nile virus is gone, according to Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist.
Three cases have been detected in the state, Kightlinger said, up from the two reported all of last year. That’s particularly of note, since the prime season for West Nile virus is just now starting, he said.
While most mosquito numbers are down, Culex tarsalis, the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus, thrive in hot, dry conditions, Kightlinger said.
“You have fewer mosquitoes so people feel complacent. The ones that are there are the ones that are dangerous.”
An adult in his or her 50s in Lake County has West Nile fever, Kightlinger said, and two blood donors, one each in Beadle and Brown counties, were determined to be carrying the virus.
“It’s a clear indication that mosquito-to-human WNV transmission is taking place and people need to protect themselves,” he said.
To prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of WNV, the department recommends the following personal precautions:
• Use mosquito repellents (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535) and limit exposure by covering up.
• Limit time outdoors from dusk to midnight when Culex mosquitoes are most active.
• Get rid of standing water that gives mosquitoes a place to breed.
• Support local mosquito control efforts.
Personal precautions are especially important for those at high risk for West Nile virus: people older than 50, pregnant women, transplant patients, individuals with diabetes or high blood pressure, and those with a history of alcohol abuse. People with a severe or unusual headache should see their physician.
Rodiek said people are well-advised to use mosquito repellent and do all they can to avoid being bitten, even with the reduced number of flying, hungry pests.
“That’s the best protection,” he said.