The St. Louis County Health Department has discovered West Nile Virus (WNV) in mosquitoes sampled from its collection sites in various parts of St. Louis County including Clayton, Richmond Heights, Mehlville, Hanley Hills, Manchester, Florissant and Lemay.
“Every year at this time in late June we see the first mosquito with West Nile Virus,” John Shelton, spokesperson for the County Health Department, said. “We get them every year. But the real message here is to get rid of standing water.”
Shelton said there are steps residents can take to reduce the opportunities for mosquitoes to flourish:
- At least once a week, drain water from garbage cans, buckets, toys, flowerpots, wading pools, pet dishes, and other objects that collect water. Change water in birdbaths at least once a week.
- Keep gutters cleaned out, and repair any tears in door and window screens.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and light colors outdoors.
- Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET or picaridin, making sure to follow the directions on the label.
- Look for products containing the active ingredient methoprene or Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) to place in birdbaths or ponds, to prevent mosquitoes from developing.
- Flexible drainage pipe is commonly used to drain water from downspouts. A big drawback is that it holds water and breeds mosquitoes if not properly sloped when installed.
The complete list of what you can do to prevent mosquito breeding is on the county’s website: Mosquito Control.
Shelton said that the occurrence of WNV in humans is rare. In fact, the county usually averages about one case of human WNV a year.
“Just because you are bitten by a mosquito it does not mean you will get WNV or will even get sick from it,” Shelton said. “People can get WNV and not even know it. They may feel like they have a summer cold or achy like the flu and it might be WNV.”
The county operates a mosquito control service which includes spraying. To find out which areas the spray truck will be on any given evening, call 314-615-4BUG.
For more information on mosquito prevention, contact the County Vector Control office at 314-727-3097 or visit the Health Department’s website at: http:/www:stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness.