The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

August 22, 2013

Cause for concern with West Nile outbreaks

An influx in mosquitoes has caused state and local health departments to caution residents about West Nile Virus.

As of last week, 102 positive pools of mosquitoes have been found around the state in 35 counties, including Daviess, Knox, Martin and Pike counties. Because of the increase in the number of West Nile positive pools of mosquitoes, the potential risk of human infection has increased. Local health officials said while the risk has increased, so far this year, the 27 percent of pests that tested positive for the virus, is still lower than the 60 plus percent that hit the state last year. State and local health departments are now focused on educating the public about West Nile and what can be done to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Positive pools of mosquitoes are not uncommon," said Environmental Health Specialist Geoff Stoner. "The state does random testing and they will ask us if there are areas within the county where an abundance of mosquitoes have been located and they will also also test areas where they have been able to collect a large amount of mosquitoes in the past."

The mosquitoes are typically collected with light traps that use fluorescent light along with a vacuum to suck down the summertime pests into a net or with traps that use stagnant water in conjuction with a vacuum that sucks the specimen upward. Dry ice is also sometimes used to drawn the mosquitoes to the trap.

"Mosquitoes like carbon dioxide. Since humans and animals emit carbon dioxide, the mosquitoes tend to like to flock around us," said Stoner.

Stoner said the state collects the disease carrying insects over night and the mosquitoes are then separated into groups and sent to the state lab where they are analyzed under a microscope. So far, over 133,000 mosquitoes have been tested in the state.

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