West Nile virus found in Willowdale, Red Church
Mosquitoes in both Willowdale and Red Church tested positive for West Nile.
Mosquitoes sent to the state last Friday tested positive for the West Nile virus in the Willowdale and Red Church neighborhoods. Other areas that had tested positive for West Nile two months ago, like Norco and Montz, received an all clear from mosquito control.
“We will increase spraying in those areas - effective immediately,” Steve Pavolich, mosquito control spokesman, said. “And residents impacted should have been notified by door hangers from this office that the infected mosquitoes are in their community.”
Mosquitoes that test positive for the West Nile virus carry the potential of spreading encephalitis, a viral inflection that causes flu-like symptoms and can be life-threatening.
“We increase the amount of spraying we do in areas where the virus is identified,” he said. “We also treat the drainage ditches in the area.”
Mosquito control sprayers will also go door-to-door to try to stamp out the threat.
“Not only do we treat the ditches surrounding the area, but once we’re aware that the virus is present, we also go door-to-door inspecting yards and warn residents to remove potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes,” Pavolich said.
Willowdale and Red Church communities will also have their drainage areas and wooded areas sprayed.
The West Nile virus is transmitted by birds. The mosquitoes bite the birds and become infected.
“We urge residents not to go outdoors during dusk and dawn as long as the virus is present in their community,” he said. “August and September is the peak season for mosquitoes.”
Pavolich says residents should take every precaution possible.
In 2002, Former Gov. Mike Foster declared a state of emergency because 83 people had become infected with encephalitis. Four of those died.
Department of Health and Human Services Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard says Hurricane Katrina did do one positive thing for the state. The deadly storm apparently carried away birds that were infected with West Nile, along with the mosquitoes that carry the disease.
“Usually, when a hurricane strikes, the winds take away the infected birds and mosquitoes. The cycle of transmitting West Nile completely stops.” Ratard said
But Ratard says after the hurricanes, the mosquitoes carrying the disease come back with a vengeance.
“Then it’s up to the mosquito control personnel in each parish to control the mosquitoes in the infected areas in their district.”
Ratard says just because an area is heavily populated with mosquitoes doesn’t mean that area is infected with the virus.
“Sometimes we can see an area with a few bugs and another area with a lot,” he said. “The area with the fewest mosquitoes may be the infected area in that parish.”
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