WSW: Fewer Mosquitoes, But More West Nile Risk
A hot and dry summer may mean fewer mosquitos. But a Michigan State University Entomology Professor says that the mosquitos that are found may pose a greater threat of carrying the West Nile Virus.
WMUK’s Rebecca Thiele spoke with Michigan State’s Ned Walker, who tracks mosquito-borne diseases in the state. Every year Walker’s team at MSU tries to predict West Nile outbreaks based on weather patterns. He says this season closely resembles the summer of 2012. That year we saw the most deaths from West Nile in U.S. history. Out of more than 5,000 cases, roughly 280 people died.
The Culex mosquito likes urban areas, which means people are safer in the woods than in the city. Walker says most people probably get West Nile in their own homes. He nicknames Culex pipiens the “Northern house mosquito” because it sneaks into houses through open doors and windows. He says the best way to prevent mosquito bites is to keep doors closed and repair any window screens with holes in them.
But tracking the spread of West Nile Virus is difficult. Walker says the few municipalities that have mosquito programs are often the only ones that send MSU mosquitoes for testing. Walker says even high risk areas like Grand Rapids and Detroit don’t report.