Summer is officially here, and so too are those pesky mosquitoes.
Aside from being a nuisance, mosquitoes are capable of carrying potentially dangerous diseases such as West Nile Virus.
Director of Environmental Health at the Morgan County Health Department Dale Bainter joined WLDS’ AM Conversation last week to discuss how his organization tests for the disease.
Bainter says the Morgan County Health Department has a sanitarian that sets mosquito traps throughout the area. Bainter explains the specific type of mosquito they’re looking for, and how often they conduct testing.
“Specifically, the species we’re after is called a Culex mosquito, there are some other mosquitoes that can carry the virus but typically in our region we want to go after the Culex mosquitoes as an indicator species attached to West Nile. We check our traps daily, and we’ll test two or three times a week if we get enough samples in our sample pool, and we’ll gather those,grind them up, test them for West Nile Virus, and we do that for the entire Summer right here in Morgan County,” says Bainter.
As for West Nile’s actual threat to West Central Illinois, Bainter says the first positive results were reported in Madison County last week.
“Godfrey, Illinois has had the first positive (test) in the state. What we’re going to see a lot of immediately with the heavy rains is what’s called a floodwater mosquito, which are a nuisance but they don’t tend to carry disease. As the area dries out and we have all of these impoundments of water, in our catch basins, in our ditches, old tires, bird baths, that’s the habitat we will see Culex mosquitoes breeding in, they want that old, stagnant water that has a lot of nutrients in it, and that’s where we’ll see that population grow from,” Bainter explains.
Bainter explains how West Nile Virus is treated from a health standpoint.
“It depends on the severity of the virus and if you contract it. Not every mosquito bite is going to transfer the virus or even be carrying the virus. Most people who are infected with the virus, might not even realize that they have it, the symptoms are fairly insignificant, maybe a little nausea, a headache. More severe cases can lead to swelling of the brain, a coma and possibly even death,” says Bainter.
To hear more about the potential threat of West Nile Virus, as well as other health tips for this summer, listen to our full interview with Bainter at WLDS/WEAI.com.