Grand Forks spends roughly $840,000 a year on mosquito control program
The trucks spraying a mist as they slowly drive through Grand Forks aren't the city's only method for keeping mosquitoes at bay. Rather, the roughly 30 people employed by the Grand Forks Public Health Department keep an eye on traps, test for mos...
The trucks spraying a mist as they slowly drive through Grand Forks aren’t the city’s only method for keeping mosquitoes at bay.
Rather, the roughly 30 people employed by the Grand Forks Public Health Department keep an eye on traps, test for mosquito-borne viruses, eliminate sites where mosquitoes might breed and destroy mosquito larvae in stagnant water.
The mosquito control program’s work became even more important with Wednesday’s announcement that the West Nile virus had been discovered in a pool of mosquitoes in Grand Forks.
“We operate as if the virus is here all the time,” said Todd Hanson, the mosquito program supervisor.
The city spends about $840,000 a year for mosquito control, he said. It also usually employs upwards of 35 people, most of them being part-time workers, he said.
“We could easily use a half a dozen more people,” he said. “But we’re into July.... We’re going to try to get along with what we’ve got right now.”
Hanson said the program budgets for about $262,000 for chemicals. He said he anticipates he’ll need to dip into reserve funds to cover expenses for the rest of the season.
“But as far as the money we have as a whole in our program right now, we’re OK,” he said.
Alicia Lepp, an epidemiologist at the North Dakota Department of Health, said the state previously had money from a federal grant to help small communities with their mosquito prevention programs. But that grant ran out this year, she said.
The state helps gather information from individual communities on mosquito counts, including the type of mosquito known for carrying the West Nile virus. That information is shared with local public health departments across the state.
“When Grand Forks had that positive mosquito this week, we want to get that information out there to let everybody in North Dakota know that there is a possibility of West Nile anywhere in the state,” Lepp said.
Lepp said nobody has reported contracting the West Nile virus in North Dakota yet this year. There have been 18 reports across the country, with three in South Dakota, Lepp said.
Hanson said another critical part of the city’s mosquito control program is public education.
“That gets the information out to the public to let them know what they can do to help and what they can do to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne disease,” Hanson said.
On the Web: For more information on the city’s mosquito control program, visit bit.ly/1kaN7Lo
Call Hageman at (701) 780-1244, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1244 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org .