(Posted July 17, 2012, at 11:00 a.m.) This weekend the annual monsoonal flow of moisture into Arizona didn’t miss any parts of Pinal County. Significant rainfall totals were seen across the county from Mammoth to Maricopa.
Those rains bring with them a familiar foe: mosquitoes.
Employees from Pinal County’s Environmental Health’s Vector Control Program have been hitting the streets early in the morning setting traps to find out if any of them are carrying West Nile virus (WNV).
“So far we’ve been lucky,” said Tami Schuler, an employee with the Vector Control Program. "To date, we have not found mosquitoes carrying West Nile. But that doesn’t mean they are not out there.”
“We usually see up and down cycles when it comes to mosquitoes carrying West Nile. Last year was a bit slow when it came to finding mosquitoes with the virus, if the cycle holds true, we should see more mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile.”
Last year Pinal County had one probable human case of the mosquito-borne illness. So far this year, Maricopa County has had one confirmed human case of West Nile.
If any of the trapped mosquitoes show any positive signs of West Nile virus, a fogging is usually scheduled as soon as possible.
“The number of complaints we have received has gone up in the past few weeks,” Schuler said. “Just so the public knows, we will not fog for nuisance mosquitoes. We know they are annoying, but our focus is stopping the spread of the West Nile virus so we fog in areas where mosquitoes test positive.”
To protect yourself from mosquitoes, follow these tips:
· Avoid outside activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
· If you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are active, wear lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs and use an insect repellent containing an EPA registered active ingredient such as DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always follow the directions on the label.
· Make sure doors and windows have tight screens and remain closed. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes in them.
· Eliminate mosquito-breeding sites around the home by removing standing water in potted plants, tires, bird baths and other containers where water may collect.
· Ensure that swimming pools and decorative water features are properly maintained.
· Change water in flowerpots, birdbaths and pet watering bowls located outdoors at least twice per week.
“Our residents have been terrific in helping to keep our WNV numbers down,” Schuler explained. “They are heeding the warnings to watch out for areas where water is pooling and taking precautions such as emptying old tires or changing their pet’s water bowl each day.”
The County has a mosquito hotline and a webpage. If you would like information on mosquito prevention and control, please call: 866-287-0209, ext. 6200, or visit the West Nile virus webpage at: http://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/Departments/EnvironmentalHealth/Pages/Home.aspx.
(source: Pinal County)