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West Nile virus found amid mosquito 'explosion' in St. Tammany

Crews have noticed a significant increase in the number of freshwater mosquitoes collected in traps in recent weeks
Credit: frank600
(Credit: Thinkstock)

COVINGTON, La. — A group of mosquitoes collected in Covington has tested positive for West Nile virus, the St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement Department said on Monday.

While positive pools of mosquitos are typically found this time of year, the STPMAD said the presence of the West Nile virus is an enhanced risk to people in the area. Starting Monday, residents can expect to see increased abatement efforts, including spraying roadside ditches and nighttime spraying with trucks, planes, or helicopters.

The STPMAD said that crews have noticed a significant increase in the number of freshwater mosquitoes collected in traps in recent weeks, most likely due to Tropical Storm Claudette and other rainstorms.

“Coastal areas across eastern St. Tammany Parish are experiencing a population explosion in freshwater mosquitoes, particularly in Avery Estates area,” the STPMAD said. “In addition to making outdoor activities difficult, these mosquitoes are also competent vectors for West Nile virus.”

Residents can reduce their risk of contracting the West Nile virus or minimizing exposure to biting mosquitoes by wearing CDC-recommended repellent including those with DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. They should also walk around their home at least once a week to dump and drain any standing water.

The STPMAD said that the peak biting time for mosquitos is one hour before and after dawn and dusk. 

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