Community

West Nile Warning

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Submitted by Sharon Phillips

West Nile Virus activity has increased dramatically in mosquitoes in the parish recently according to mosquito control workers at EBRPMARC district. Matthew Yates, Director, said citizens should continue to protect themselves from biting mosquitoes and empty water filled containers around the home to reduce potential mosquito breeding sites. Students returning to the colleges and universities should also be aware of the potential for contracting WNV from a mosquito bite and take precautions.
 
East Baton Rouge Parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control workers advise that the parish wide West Nile Virus infection rate among Southern House Mosquitoes last week was 15.83 infected mosquitoes per 1000 mosquitoes tested. Matt Yates, Director, said that a mosquito infection rate of 5 or more in the Southern House Mosquito during July and August has historically been a predictor of human cases of West Nile Virus in EBR Parish. One hundred thirty seven (137) mosquito samples collected by EBRPMARC personnel last week were tested by the LSU Diagnostic Laboratory and thirty (30) mosquito samples from seventeen (17) locations were positive for West Nile Virus. This indicates that the virus is widespread and becoming more intense in Southern House mosquitoes in the parish.
 
Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile Virus when they bite infected wild birds, such as Cardinals and House Sparrows. Some infected mosquito species, such as the Southern House mosquito, can then transmit WNV to people when they bite. People do not get WNV from contact with wild birds, only from the bite of an infected mosquito. Twenty nine (29) of the mosquito samples which tested positive for West Nile Virus last week in EBR Parish were Southern House Mosquitoes. This mosquito species breeds in highly organic water in roadside ditches, catch basins and water filled containers around the home.
 
Wild birds frequently visit bird feeders and often seek water in bird baths and other items around homes. The Southern House Mosquito lays her eggs in water filled containers around homes. The adult female mosquitoes, which emerge from the immature mosquito stages which develop in the water filled containers, can pick up WNV from infected wild birds and then transmit the disease to people living nearby. The Southern House mosquito likes to bite late at night inside homes. Mosquito control personnel are urging citizens to check around their home and locate and empty water filled containers every week when they take the trash can to the curb for garbage pickup. Other precautions include:
 
*           Avoiding activity around dusk and dawn whenever possible, this is when many mosquito species are most active;
*           Wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants when outdoors during peak mosquito activity periods;
*           Wearing repellents with DEET or other approved ingredients when outdoors during times when mosquitoes are active (See the CDC Web Site for More Information; and,
*           Keeping mosquitoes out of the home by repairing torn window screens and eliminating cracks around doors and windows.
 
Citizens may call EBRMARC at 356-3297 for assistance between 7:00 AM – 3:30 PM Monday – Friday. The service is free.
 
For more information contact Matthew Yates or Rod Wells at 356-3297 or 356-3318 or email myates@brgov.com or Rwells@brgov.com

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