For Immediate Release
August 16, 2007

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

KDHE and Montgomery County Release Findings of Entomologist Teams
Monitoring Mosquitoes in Southeast Kansas

A team of entomologists from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has completed their assessment of the impact of mosquitoes following the flooding that occurred in southeast Kansas last month.

The assessment was conducted to determine the risk to human health due to the existing and anticipated abundance of mosquitoes related to both seasonal occurrence and increased pooling of waters. The entomologists were also asked to assist in determining estimated prevalence of disease and the risks and benefits of controlling mosquitoes with insecticides, if needed.

The intensive monitoring in Elk, Neosho, Wilson and Montgomery Counties confirmed that those counties have an abundance of mosquitoes this year. The species of mosquitoes identified in largest numbers are chiefly nuisance mosquitoes rather than the disease-carrying type.

Disease-carrying mosquitoes captured in the monitored area were submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratory, where West Nile Virus was detected among the samples in Neosho, Wilson and Montgomery Counties. None of the samples submitted to the CDC were found to have Western Equine Encephalitis or St. Louis Encephalitis, two other mosquito-borne illnesses seen in Kansas.

“This is an expected finding in Kansas,” said Dr. Gail Hansen, state epidemiologist. “The virus does not appear to be any more common than in previous years of testing in southeast Kansas or in other areas of the state. However, since we are at the height of the West Nile Virus season, we continue to urge people to do what they can to keep from getting bitten by a disease- carrying mosquito.”

Disease-carrying mosquitoes are likely to reproduce in standing water, particularly where there is organic material present. Continued vigilance of protecting yourself from mosquito bites and preventing mosquito habitats are critical to curbing the spread of West Nile Virus. KDHE and the Montgomery County Health Department recommend the following precautions to protect against mosquito-spread diseases:

Neighborhood teams can help find sources of standing water that might otherwise be missed and help disabled or elderly neighbors clear sources of standing water such as cleaning out rain gutters and removing containers with water and debris from yards and alleyways.

Spraying with ultra-low volume pesticides may reduce the number of adult mosquito populations for a brief period of time in the sprayed area, but it will not effectively break the life cycle of the mosquito population. An integrated approach must include removing the breeding grounds by eliminating sources of standing, stagnant or contained water and adding larvicide to larger bodies of water that cannot be reasonably drained using bacterial-based compounds such as those with Bti. Residents should also keep water circulating or replaced in swimming pools, bird baths, animal troughs and watering containers.