Is Vanderburgh County Prepared For West Nile?

Web Producer: Brad Maglinger

Last year, the West Nile outbreak caught everyone by surprise. The Vanderburgh County Health Department did have a mosquito control program in place, but by the end of the summer, they were stepping up their efforts. This year, the problem may be bad again. But the good news is, at least we're more prepared.

Health department workers will be checking standing water for mosquito larvae. Justin Manning, from the Vanderburgh County Health Department, sprays ponds and ditches with an environmentally friendly larvacide, mineral oil. Both mineral oil and rain help get rid of the larvae.

"If we keep getting periodic rain and flushing out the ditches, it will really help us. Right now, it's pretty average the places we're seeing mosquitos are the places we've seen them in the past," said Manning.

But too much rain can also hurt. Standing water ends up in buckets, kiddie swimming pools and sandboxes. "That's a place a lot of people don't often think that mosquitos will breed, but that's a perfect area for them," explained Manning.

If you have any old tires in your backyard, be aware that they can hold a lot of water. The health department wants you to be diligent all summer long about emptying things like this out.

From under the water to under the microscope, the health department is also taking samples of the larva to identify the species most likely to carry the virus. Manning said, "Culex is the one that we're looking for mostly. The other ones tend to be nuisance biters." Even so, the health department isn't taking any chances. They're going after every type of mosquito this year. Preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Besides mosquitos, the health department is also interested in birds. If you find a dead crow, blue jay or birds of prey like hawks or owls, call the health department. Someone will come get it and test it for West Nile. Other birds can get the virus, but it's these birds who are most likely to die from the disease, so these are the ones they want to test.