Mosquito Control Experts Detect Widespread West Nile Virus in Area’s Mosquitoes

Collier Mosquito Control District (the District) scientists are finding West Nile virus (WNV) in local mosquitoes caught in traps located in Ave Maria, Immokalee, Golden Gate Estates, and the City of Naples. Residents throughout the county are urged to drain containers of standing water around their homes and to wear repellents when outdoors to protect themselves from the mosquito-borne disease.

The District’s scientists trap mosquitoes in numerous locations and test them weekly in their onsite laboratory. This year, they first detected the virus in some local mosquitoes on July 22. Now the testing is consistently showing positive virus-infected mosquitoes, which in indicative of a significant increase of viral activity in the area. The mosquito samples are sent to the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories-Tampa for verification, and results are confirmed within two weeks.

“The mosquito that spreads West Nile virus is the Culex mosquito, which obtains the disease by biting a bird infected with the virus, then it infects the animals and humans that it subsequently bites” says District Executive Director Patrick Linn. “The Culex prefers to breed in stagnant, still water so residents and business owners are urged to dump and drain any containers of water at least once a week.”

The District’s operations and science teams are closely monitoring daily mosquito data to plan treatments, as well as performing in-house testing for WNV and other mosquito-borne health threats. Linn noted that additional mosquito treatments are likely in the coming weeks to control both adult and larval mosquitoes.

In 2020, the District detected WNV in mosquitoes from traps from September through December in areas including Ave Maria, Naples, and eastern Golden Gate Estates. The Collier Department of Health reported a total of seven human WNV cases and one horse with WNV in 2020.

District officials are reminding the public to diligently follow the “5 D’s” to minimize their exposure to potentially harmful mosquitoes:

  • Drain anything holding water around your home to discourage mosquito breeding
  • Defend yourself by wearing insect repellent
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants when reasonable
  • Avoid being outdoors during times of peak mosquito activity – dawn and dusk

There is no vaccine for West Nile virus and it cannot be spread among people through sneezing, coughing, or touch. Most people do not exhibit symptoms, but if a fever, headache, or rash are experienced, they are urged to see a healthcare provider. In some cases, infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness from the virus.

  Feature photo – Patrick Linn CMCD District Executive Director

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