KAYSVILLE, Utah (ABC4) – Earlier this month, health officials in Idaho announced a mosquito pool in Bear Lake County tested positive for West Nile Virus. Today, county officials confirm two mosquito pools in Utah have now tested positive for the virus.
“It can even potentially cause death,” Elizabeth Hart tells ABC4.
Hart is the lab manager for the Davis County Mosquito Abatement District, and she’s referring to the worst-case scenario that can happen to a person who gets West Nile Virus from a mosquito bite. “So we want to avoid it so we can avoid having the harm and the problems that could occur,” she adds.
Hart explains to do that, the district has 36 traps spread out across the county that they collect regularly. Twelve are collected on a daily basis while the remaining 24 are collected once a week. She says they choose spots based on areas that are suitable for mosquitoes to thrive. She says they also make sure their collection areas are spread out enough to give them good coverage of the entire county.
Harts says once collected, the mosquitoes are placed in a freezer to kill them humanely while also keeping their bodies intact, they are then separated by species (three here in Utah), put into tubes, ground up into small pieces, “and then (we) start the extraction process, and pulling out the RNA from everything else that’s in the liquid.”
With the RNA, Hart explains she and her team can test for three diseases, including West Nile.
She says two pools tested positive for the disease this last week. After that, they ran a second test to confirm the result. This week, both pools were confirmed positive. She says the two samples both come from southern Davis County.
When West Nile is confirmed, Hart says the district ramps up its efforts to keep the disease from spreading by targeting the areas and doing extra pest control. She says this includes “adulticiding to kill the adult population, and also larviciding to deal with the mosquito larva before they come off.”
Hart says there is no reason to panic, but does suggest people in the county use bug spray when they’re out, wear long sleeves and pants during morning and evening hours (when outside), and be weary of stagnant water. She encourages people in the county to check around their property for standing water and get rid of it, or change it regularly. In any given year, mosquitoes seek out standing water to lay their eggs. However, she says during the drought, the mosquitoes will be even more aggressive in seeking out any water sources they can find.