West Baton Rouge testing mosquitoes for West Nile virus

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PORT ALLEN, LA (BRPROUD) – It’s that time of year again. Heat, humidity, and rain — the perfect recipe for mosquitoes. And that means the West Nile virus might not be far behind.

East Baton Rouge has confirmed at least three mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile. Officials in West Baton Rouge are searching for any signs of the disease in their parish.

Mosquitoes are the main vector for the West Nile Virus. Officials scatter mosquito traps so that they can be tested to see if the virus is in West Baton Rouge. George Bragg, Director of Mosquito and Animal Control in WBR says that this is the season for the disease to rear its ugly head.

“This is the time of year that West Nile kind of kicks off,” Bragg said.

There are over 20 traps throughout the parish, and in peak season, they can capture roughly 1,000 mosquitoes. After two days of collection, they will take those samples to LSU for testing.

Bragg said you might notice fewer mosquitoes buzzing around, but the threat of West Nile is still real.

“This time of year, the heat plays a factor and that the water sources kind of dry out and really focuses on the bird population and the mosquito population so we will see a lot of our mosquito numbers go down but the virus numbers go up,” Bragg said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020 there were 18 cases of the West Nile virus and the disease claimed the lives of three people in Louisiana.

“It’s less than one percent fatality rate, a lot of people will have what they call West Nile Fever which would be mild symptoms if you are young,” Bragg said. “They might not even know that they have West Nile.”

While you’re having fun in the sun, you should avoid being out during dusk and dawn hours because that’s when mosquitoes are most active. Bragg said there are also things you can do around your home to keep you and your family safe this summer.

“We can’t always police the area directly around your home so any containers around your home, any standing water around the home, tires, buckets, wheel barrels pet dishes, birdbaths… make sure that is flushed at least once a week,’ Bragg said. “You can wear long clothes, I know during the summertime it’s hard to do, and wear mosquito repent.”

West Nile has not been found here in the parish, but it’s better to find them in mosquitoes before it comes to people.

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