Health Officials Hoping to Get Head Start on West Nile This Year

Reporter: Shannon Samson

It's the "return of the swamp man," at least that's how Justin Manning of the Vanderburgh County Health Department feels this time of year. As soon as the weather gets warm, he starts spraying ponds and puddles with a mineral oil solution to smother the mosquito larvae. "It's about as environmentally friendly of a product as we can find and it works very well."

Throughout the summer, Manning and a pair of interns will continue to spray for mosquitoes. Here's what they need you to do around your home to help prevent mosquitoes from breeding:

1. Eliminate places where rainwater can collect such as old tires.

2. Clean clogged gutters and drain flowerpots, wading pools and toys that can collect water.

3. Also try to fill birdbaths and fountains with fresh water every week or so.

Community effort and vigilance on the part of his team made for what Manning considers a successful summer last year. Vanderburgh County didn't have a single confirmed case of the West Nile virus. The state had less than 50 compared to nearly 300 in 2002.

Even though the numbers were down last year, Manning says he's not taking anything for granted. "Ccooler temperatures late in the summer and rain late in the summer helped flush out those areas that the Culex (mosquito) like to breed in and so we had a lot of positives work for us last year statewide and it may not be the case this year."

This spring is already starting out hot and dry...perfect breeding weather for the kind of mosquitos that are most likely to carry the West Nile virus. If you find a dead crow, blue jay, hawk or owl in your yard, call your local health department. Someone will be by to pick it up to send if off to the state for West Nile testing.