Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Health officials staying vigilant on combating West Nile virus threat - Bastrop, LA - Bastrop Daily Enterprise

Last week, the Ouachita Parish Mosquito Abatement District reported the parish’s first positive test this year for the West Nile virus in a mosquito pool. The information was received from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, where they’d discovered it in one pool representing one location in the Garden District of Monroe.
The West Nile virus mainly infects birds, but is known to infect humans, horses and other animals. Mainly transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, a person who is infected with the virus may experience achy, mild, flu-like symptoms.
Kyle Moppert, medical entomologist for DHH, said this is no cause for Ouachita nor Morehouse parishes to be concerned.
“We usually get positive pools in April or early May,” he said. “This is normal this time of year.”
Unlike Morehouse Parish, Moppert said Ouachita Parish has mosquito surveillance and abatement programs.
“Mosquito abatement districts capture mosquitos and trap them to gather and send to LADDL (Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory) in Baton Rouge,” he said. “They test for West Nile and other arbovirus.”
Moppert said this is a tool Ouachita Parish uses to see were they need to apply larvicides.
Larvicides, which are evaluated and registered through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are pesticides used for mosquito control. They are based on an evaluation of the risks to the general public from diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.
“Shannon Rider [director for Ouachita Parish Mosquito Abatement] will concentrate on the area where the test was positive and apply larvicides in that area,” Moppert said. “They’ve done a Cracker Jack job every year.”
Bastrop Public Works Director Willie McKee said his department is currently spraying larvicides in Bastrop’s ditches and canals.
“We’re spraying now everyday, Monday through Friday from 8 p.m. ’till midnight,” he said.
McKee said they’re not “doing any testing in Morehouse Parish for West Nile. To my knowledge, we haven’t had any cases of it here.”
Ken Pastorick, public information director for DHH, said the best way to rid an area of mosquitoes is to remove all standing water.
“Each year people need to remember to empty the water in their yard such as in bird baths or buckets,” he said. “Wear long sleeves and pants and always wear insect repellant.”
Moppert agreed that standing water remains the most effective incubator for mosquitoes. He said some species of mosquitoes breed in water with high organic contents. Other species will breed in any source of water.
“Most mosquitoes don’t travel very far, so if there’s a high number of mosquitoes in your yard, more than likely they’re breeding in your yard,” he said. “Dump all water. If there’s no water, there’s no mosquitoes.”