Batches of local mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus


Reporter - Kendall Downing

JACKSON COUNTY, Ill. - You've seen them; you've swatted them. The rainy summer has mosquitoes swarming all over the place. But the pesky variety brought on by the rain isn't the same type that can carry West Nile Virus.

Summertime means the Jackson County Health Department is busy.

"We're still trapping mosquitoes," said Bart Hagston, Environmental Health Director.

Staff members use devices to attract the insects and bring them in to test each week. Last week two samples came back positive for West Nile Virus.

"It was by no means unexpected," said Hagston.

Hagston said this season's been tricky because of the weather.

"When there's a lot of flood waters out there, we get calls from people concerned about those mosquitoes carrying West Nile. Luckily, they do not," he said.

Those are known as "floodwater" mosquitoes. They lay their eggs in low-lying areas that will be covered by summer rains. After the rain, the mosquito population explodes.

In the late summer months, the Culex mosquito arrives as temperatures increase. It's the one the health department tries to trap. Culex mosquitoes transmit West Nile and look for old water to lay their eggs.

Mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus are often called container breeders. They reproduce in one week, in stagnant water.

Hagston said wearing repellant is one of the best ways to protect yourself.

"Mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus primarily bite at dawn and dusk," he said.

Earlier this month, two batches of mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile Virus in Franklin County, Illinois. Four out of five people bitten by a West Nile infected mosquito will never experience any symptoms of the virus.