HURON — Mosquito populations around Huron have been significantly reduced through citywide spraying, but people are reminded to remain vigilant because Culex tarsalis, the carrier of West Nile virus, is now present in higher numbers.
“It hasn’t been that bad,” LaRon Klock, director of the parks and recreation department, said of the mosquito season so far, “except now Culex is showing up to the point where if you get bit it’s going to be a pretty high percentage that it could be Culex.”
Employees regularly count mosquitoes caught in traps located in half a dozen areas in Huron, including Winter Park, Ravine Lake Park, Kunhart Field, Sportsman’s Club, the new Southtown water tower in southeast Huron and the state Game, Fish & Parks Department on the state fairgrounds.
Counts done before and after last week’s second spraying in the city showed that mosquito numbers had been reduced by as much as 83 percent in one area. Other reductions ranged from 16 percent to 59 percent.
“It shows citywide spraying is making a difference,” Klock said.
Sprayers were to be out again sometime this week, depending on the wind. He said he anticipates the city will spray four to six more times through July, August and into early September.
People can best protect themselves by using a mosquito repellent containing DEET and by wearing long sleeves and long pants if going into mosquito-infested areas. Mosquitoes are most active at sunrise and sunset.
Even small amounts of water provide breeding sites for mosquitoes, which they must have, so people should empty water from any containers and change water in bird baths often.
Old tires are a perfect breeding site for mosquitoes and should be discarded.
Klock said he is aware of one case of West Nile virus this year; it involved an individual who had carried it since last year and it only was detected when he went to donate blood.
In 2002, the state Department of Health said there were more than 4,100 human cases of the virus in the country, including 284 deaths.
Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus when they feed on infected birds. Mosquitoes can then transmit it to other birds or to humans or horses.
It takes two or three weeks for symptoms to show up after someone has been bitten. They can vary from no visible effect to flu-like symptoms, paralysis or death. All age groups are susceptible, but the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience severe forms of the disease.
While the pesticide used to control mosquitoes is not harmful to humans, Klock is asking the public to respect the sprayer as it proceeds through streets and alleys.