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  • To date, no trapped mosquitoes in Juab County show signs of West Nile Virus

By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

Juab County, thus far, has not found any of the mosquitoes trapped in the county to be infected with West Nile Virus, though some of the type which carry the disease have been trapped.

Mike Seely, Juab County Administrator, said that Mike Keyte, county mosquito abatement director, had also been to the West Desert, as well as to other areas in Juab County where the insects might breed.

However, mosquitoes in Utah's most populous city, Salt Lake, have tested positive for West Nile virus.

The Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District announced Wednesday, Aug. 18, that the virus was found in four mosquito pools sampled on Aug. 11. The samples were taken from wetland areas within the city limits. No infected mosquitoes were found in the samples taken from the city's more populated areas.

The mosquitoes are known to travel as many as 13 miles in the course of a week.

Seely said that Juab County obtained a $55,000 grant to help the county develop a mosquito abatement program. That money is being used to help identify areas where the pesky insects might live and to obtain the needed equipment to do the job.

Seely wrote the grant so the county could begin a program which it has never had before. The impetus for the grant is the fact that the West Nile Virus is now a health concern in Utah.

The Millard County director has work with Keyte to find the sites where the mosquitoes might be located and to help train Keyte. Millard has a long standing abatement program.

"Samples of mosquitoes from Juab County and been and will continue to be collected and sent to the state where they are tested," said Seely.

The grant must be matched by Juab County with the county putting up approximately $29,000, said Seely.

Seely and Keyte attended a training session in Logan and the county has been purchasing needed equipment. Part of that equipment has included a fogger, chemical to be used in the fogger, and a Polaris 6 X 6 to mount the fogger on.

All of those funds have come from the grant.

A trailer is also needed to haul the chemical on from place to place as the mosquitoes are sprayed.

Commissioners agreed to allow the purchasing of needed equipment from the grant money.

Seely said Keyte had been training with other abatement directors from other areas and was a good choice for the job.

"We have to work with the DWR (Division of Wildlife Services) in determining which chemical is to be used in some areas," said Seely.

That is because sensitive species such as the Spotted Frog and the Least Chub need to be protected if the DWR has identified them as being located in any of the wetland areas where mosquitoes like to breed.

 West Nile Virus has been detected now in Box Elder, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, Duchesne, Grand, Washington and Uintah counties.

In addition, the West has been especially hard-hit this year. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures indicate there are, to date, 102 cases in California, 44 in Colorado and 274 cases in Arizona.

      All the Utah mosquitoes that tested positive are Culex tarsalis, which only bite between dusk and dawn. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak mosquito biting times for many species of mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing during evening and early morning or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.

In addition to killing the mosquitoes and removing habitat, the best thing local residents can do, according to The West Nile Virus home page of the CDC, an agency of the US government, at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/q&a.htm, is to use their slogan and "Fight The Bite!"

When dealing with West Nile virus, prevention is the best bet.

"Fighting mosquito bites reduces your risk of getting this disease, along with others that mosquitoes can carry. Take the common sense steps below to reduce your risk:

*avoid bites and illness;

*clean out the mosquitoes from the places where you work and play;

*help your community control the disease."

To date, the state of Utah total includes five infected humans, 33 virus-carrying mosquito batches, one dead bird and three sentinel chickens with the virus.

According to CDC information, if someone is bitten by an infected mosquito, there's only a 20 percent chance that West Nile Virus will develop. The chance that any one person is going to become ill from a single mosquito bite remains low. The risk of severe illness and death is highest for people over 50 years old, although people of all ages can become ill. Few die.

Most will have symptoms similar to flu, but in a smaller number of cases, individuals will develop neurological symptoms.

Weather has some impact on mosquitoes, but the current cooler, rainier weather is just what mosquitoes like. When it's extremely hot, mosquitoes die quickly.

However, approximately 10 days after a rainstorm, the number of mosquitoes increases significantly.

And C. tarsalis has a long life-span. Many of those now alive will be alive next spring.

In mid-September, the mosquitoes will stop biting people and start drinking nectar and fruit to build up their own fat so that they can lay low over the winter.

Contrary to popular belief, cold weather doesn't kill them. The numbers go down because as it gets colder they start to over winter.

The CDC found that West Nile virus activity occurred much earlier this year than in the past.

They suggest that everyone get double protection: wear long sleeves during peak mosquito biting hours, and spray DEET repellent directly onto clothes. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or DEET will give extra protection.

Look for: N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide on the label. Don't apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent containing DEET on the skin under your clothing.

Apply directly to exposed skin when going outdoors. Even a short time being outdoors can be long enough to get a mosquito bite.

Drain standing water from around the home because mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water.Limit the number of places around the home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items that hold water.

Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having well-fitting screens on both windows and doors. Offer to help neighbors whose screens might be in bad shape.

Report dead birds to authorities. Dead birds may be a sign that West Nile virus is circulating between birds and the mosquitoes in an area. Over 130 species of birds are known to have been infected with West Nile virus, though not all infected birds will die. It's important to remember that birds die from many other causes besides West Nile virus.

"By reporting dead birds to state and local health departments, you can play an important role in monitoring West Nile virus," said CDC officials.

A source for information about pesticides and repellents is the National Pesticide Information Center, which also operates a toll-free information line: 1-800-858-7378 (check their Web site for hours).