MOSQUITO BORNE DISEASE ALERT
West Nile Virus (WNV) Infection Rates in Southern House mosquitoes increased dramatically in East Baton Rouge Parish last week, and there have been several Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) cases in horses in other parishes in southern Louisiana recently. Both these diseases cycle between wild birds and mosquitoes and can be transmitted to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Because of the increase in WNV and EEE activity, mosquito control personnel are urging people to protect themselves from biting mosquitoes and empty water filled containers around the home to reduce potential mosquito breeding sites. Horse owners should also work with their veterinarian to have their horses vaccinated for both WNV and EEE.
East Baton Rouge Parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control workers advise that the parish wide West Nile Virus infection rate among Southern House Mosquitoes recently jumped to 11.1 infected mosquitoes per 1000 mosquitoes tested. An infection rate of 6 or more positive mosquitoes per 1000 mosquitoes during July has historically preceded human cases of West Nile Virus in EBR Parish. Thirty one (31) mosquito samples collected recently from twenty (20) separate locations around the parish tested positive for West Nile Virus. The director, Matthew Yates is advising citizens to take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites and mosquito borne disease.
Mosquitoes become infected with WNV, EEE, Saint Louis Encephalitis (SLE) or other mosquito borne viruses when they bite wild birds which are infected with the disease. If a mosquito bites an infected bird and later bites a person it can transmit the disease to the person. People do not get WNV, EEE or SLE from contact with wild birds or horses.
Wild birds, which may be infected with WNV, EEE or SLE frequently visit bird feeders and often seek water in bird baths and other items around homes. Cardinals (Red Birds) and House Sparrows are frequently infected with WNV in the Baton Rouge area. The immature stages of mosquitoes, especially Southern House Mosquitoes and Asian Tiger Mosquitoes which can transmit West Nile Virus, develop in water filled containers around homes and businesses. Recent rain events have provided numerous breeding sites around homes and businesses. Matt Yates says that emptying water filled containers will greatly reduce the risk of West Nile Virus and other mosquito borne diseases by eliminating mosquito breeding sources. 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 whenever possible;
* 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.