Grand Forks skeeter fighters focus on West Nile
Grand Forks Public Health’s mosquito control workers may have stopped the majority of nuisance mosquitoes, but Supervisor Todd Hanson said they are seeing an increase in culex tarsalis, the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus.
According to Hanson, seeing culex tarsalis in areas west of the Mississippi River is not unusual. He said these mosquitoes tend to show up in traps in late June, but the population’s peak is at the end of July. That is also the peak time for West Nile virus.
“We haven’t had any human West Nile cases in North Dakota yet that I know of and I suspect we will start seeing those pretty soon,” said Hanson.
West Nile virus is carried through birds. When mosquitoes draw blood from an infected bird, they in turn get the virus. When they bite a human, they pass it on to that person.
Because of this, Hanson said there is no way to completely eliminate the virus in Grand Forks. “The potential is going to be there until we have a hard frost,” he said.
Hanson advises that everyone wear bug spray containing DEET and do what they can to avoid being outdoors in areas that attract mosquitoes. “The West-Nile-virus mosquito is a permanent pool species. She will find water somewhere (to lay her eggs) whether it’s a bucket of water or the river.”
Though the Mosquito Control department has done a lot of spraying for nuisance mosquitoes, Hanson said it is now spraying with a focus on keeping West Nile under control. “We know we have West Nile virus in the community and we want to keep that risk down as much as possible.”