Wingard: City working to stay ahead of West Nile virus

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 21, 2002

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Although the city has not experienced any serious problems with viruses associated with mosquitoes, such as the West Nile Virus, city workers are asking that people assist with mosquito control as a prevention method.

Public Works has been spraying the city with Malathion every night since March, but, according to Jake Wingard, director, people are backtracking the work by unwittingly breeding the insect in their yards.

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"We don’t have [the West Nile Virus] here in Pike County yet. What I want to do is get ahead of it so we can avoid it. We don’t have it here as of yet and we don’t want it here and we want to do everything we can so we don’t have a problem here," Wingard said.

The West Nile Virus has been found a little too close to home with it showing up in Ozark and Enterprise during the summer.

Mosquitoes spread the virus by feeding on the blood of infected birds, which circulate the virus in their system.

Crows, blue jays and raptors, such as owls and hawks, are the main carriers of the virus.

"It often will not make humans sick unless they are older. A younger person with a lot of energy probably won’t get sick, but the West Nile can be dangerous to an older person," Wingard said.

Wingard has done his share of research about the insect while he has been working with the city to control the mosquito population.

According to him, one mosquito can lay up to 200 eggs.

"You know, mosquitoes are relatively strange animals. They won’t live long, maybe up to a month, depending on the food source. They’ll die, but they have raised so many babies that they don’t need to live," he said.

Public Works has printed door hangers with information about how to control the spread of mosquitoes and the hangers will be passed out by utility workers when they travel around the city reading meters.

"We are going to get them out and let people be aware of what we’re dealing with. A lot of people aren’t aware of the problem with mosquitoes, so maybe people will take heed to what we’re saying and help us to get rid of them.

"We’re fighting it and we need the city’s help," he said.

Wingard asks that people make sure there is no standing water anywhere in the yard and, if anyone sees a dead bird, call Public Works at 566-1133.

"Anytime you’ve got old tires and open containers that is mosquito breeding. In a matter of a few days those things will be up flying.

"I know a lot of people don’t want to take a bag and pick up a dead bird, but we don’t have a problem with it so we’ll do it," he said.