Anthony LeDoux of the Calcasieu Parish Mosquito Control collects a sample of mosquitoes at the Mallard Cove Golf Course Friday. The traps are set out all over the parish to collect samples of mosquitoes. (Brad Puckett / American Press)
Calcasieu Parish Mosquito Control uses various traps to collect samples of mosquitoes. The traps are set out all over the parish to collect samples of the pests. (Brad Puckett / American Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, July 08, 2012 11:21 PM
Mosquito populations are below average for this time of year, but large numbers earlier in the year may have contributed to West Nile virus outbreaks occurring in the state, health officials said.
The state health department on Thursday confirmed three recent human cases of West Nile virus infection, including a potentially fatal case in Vernon Parish.
Two people in Tangipahoa Parish tested positive, but have shown no symptoms. The only previous confirmed human case this year occurred in St. Bernard Parish in June. That person was also asymptomatic, DHH said.
Scott Willis, director of Calcasieu Parish Mosquito Control, said about 19 parishes have had mosquitoes test positive for West Nile. There have been no positive tests in Calcasieu Parish, but there was one in Allen Parish. Willis said mosquitoes are collected at 50 sites throughout the parish every week and sent to the LSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for West Nile testing.
“It is hard to speculate on what will happen,” Willis said. “Last year was the lowest count that the state has seen in some time, but now there is a lot of activity in the eastern part of the state, from Lafayette to New Orleans.”
Willis said an increased mosquito population from earlier this year could be one of the reasons.
“Birds pick up the virus from mosquitoes, and once a bird is infected the virus will spread to other mosquitoes that feed off it,” he said.
“Mosquito populations were high in the spring, at the same time the birds were nesting. It is possible that the high mosquito population amplified the transmission process a bit.”
Willis said viral activity typically increases in July and August, and he suggested that people use DEET-containing insect repellent as part of a comprehensive strategy to avoid infection. Other steps: Avoid wearing fragrances and eliminate standing water in your yard.