SCHAUMBURG, ILL.—A number of U.S. states have reported cases of West Nile virus (WNV) in 2013, as experts warn of the potential for a second consecutive year of increased activity for the virus. The predictions are based largely on the hot, dry weather conditions in many regions of the US that could resemble 2012, a year that produced the most WNV deaths in U.S. history.
“West Nile virus may have fallen off of the public’s radar a bit in recent years, but there was definitely a lot of awareness generated around the disease following last year’s outbreak,” said Dean Gaiser, regional sales manager for Central Life Sciences. “Mosquito abatement districts and public health departments will be more vigilant this year as people keep a closer watch, and public education will be more important than ever.”
According to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, 2012 WNV activity included 5,674 total cases of the disease in people and 286 deaths. Total reported cases were the second-highest ever since the disease was first tracked in the U.S. in 1999, and the number of deaths was the highest ever. The CDC report cited higher-than-usual temperatures in 2012 as a likely factor in the record-high WNV activity, as hot and dry conditions are ideal for the breeding of Culex mosquitoes and lead to more interactions between birds and mosquitoes sharing limited water pools.
While mosquito control efforts are predominantly the responsibility of mosquito abatement districts and public health departments, Gaiser adds that each member of the community can take actions to help control mosquito activity. There are a number of precautions people in the community can take around their homes, including:
• Turning over pails and emptying planters or anything that can hold stagnant water, allowing mosquitoes to breed.
• Changing and maintaining the water in ornamental ponds, birdbaths, wading pools and other receptacles that require water to function.
• Practicing good sanitation around the home, as litter and debris in the yard can collect water and enable mosquito breeding.
• Covering openings for standing water sources, such as septic tanks, rainbarrels and catchbasins with fine mesh screening.
• Clearing gutters in the spring and fall.
• Filling natural depressions in landscaping, tree holes and rotten stumps with sand to absorb water retained after rainfall.
• Draining abandoned pools or treating regularly with chlorine to deter egg-laying mosquitoes.
• Draining water from tire swings and other backyard play sets, and drilling holes in the bottom to help with drainage.
• Watering lawns and gardens minimally to prevent puddles and to conserve water.
• Mowing tall grass to reduce shady areas where mosquitoes prefer to rest.
More household tips, mosquito facts and an interactive map of typical problem areas can be found at www.mosquitoprevention101.com, a public education site created by Central Life Sciences to help control mosquitoes and fight the diseases they carry. The site also encourages the importance of contacting local legislature or mosquito abatement districts to ask about treatments for standing water in your area and information about mosquito spraying.
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