When any member of the Marion County Public Health Department’s Mosquito Control team is involved in a conversation the question will likely be asked, “What kind of mosquito season are we in for?”
The answer really hasn’t changed much since the Mosquito Control program began in 1976.
“Temperatures and rainfall play a major role in mosquito populations. If both temperature and rainfall are high, so will the number of mosquitoes,” said Jim Erwin, biologist, Marion County Public Health Department Mosquito Control.
This year the health department will use a number of resources to monitor and control the local mosquito population. During the day, technicians will look for areas of standing water and investigate known areas of water where mosquitoes are likely to breed. During the evening, crews will treat areas where adult mosquitoes pose a health risk. Mosquito control staff will also look for discarded tires that create a near perfect breeding environment.
“Tires continue to be a concern in Marion County. Last year, we collected more than 13,000 discarded tires. Not only are we eliminating mosquito breeding sites, but we are improving the environment, too,” said Chuck Dulla, administrator of the mosquito control program. Since 2000, the health department has collected more than 104,000 tires.
Unused tires, clogged gutters, small recreational pools and poorly operating septic systems also are potential breeding sites. Any container capable of holding even a small amount of water should be regularly cleaned, stored indoors or covered. Health department officials have found mosquitoes breeding in two tablespoons of water inside a Styrofoam cup.
The health department reminds local residents to assist in reducing potential mosquito breeding sites by taking a five-minute walk around their home.
“We appreciate our community and how active they are in calling us with concerns and reports of mosquito activity. This is a huge help to our efforts and we encourage people to call us if they have a mosquito-related concern,” said Mosquito Control’s Terry Gallagher.
The threat is real
Since 2002, Marion County has experienced five West Nile virus deaths. In that same time frame, more than 50 people have become sick with West Nile Virus.
In 2010, there were three confirmed human cases and no deaths in Marion County.
“West Nile virus is a serious public health threat, and while we are doing all we can, there are steps the public can take to lower their risk of infection,” said Virginia A. Caine, M.D., director, Marion County Public Health Department.
Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus are in every Marion County township throughout mosquito season, which generally ends in October.
“Eliminating potential breeding sites is important. We know mosquitoes are active around sunset. Those going out at this time of day should wear long sleeves and long pants and use a mosquito repellent,” said Dr. Caine.
Those with questions concerning mosquitoes are encouraged to contact the Marion County Public Health Department at (317) 221-7440.