Local News

Russell County Residents at Increased Risk for West Nile Virus

Flood Response Mosquito Surveillance Report 7-10-19The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has reported unprecedented numbers of Culex species mosquitoes, those that most commonly transmit West Nile Virus (WNV) in Kansas, this year.

Since 2017, three counties (Reno, Sedgwick and Shawnee) have acted as sentinel sites for WNV surveillance. Five adult mosquito traps are set in each county one night per week from mid-May through the end of September. All three counties have documented a substantial increase in Culex mosquitoes over the last several weeks. The risk of infections to humans and horses increases with higher temperatures. In a typical year most human infections with WNV occurred in mid-June through the end of September.

To inform public health, emergency management and residents, the Kansas Biological Survey, in collaboration with KDHE, began mosquito surveillance on July 3 in all 67 counties under a Federal or Local Disaster Declaration due to the May floods. One trap will be set in each county for two consecutive weeks.

The Russell County mosquito surveillance results released July 10 showed 52 Culex mosquitoes collected.

If less than 20 Culex mosquitoes are collected, source reduction and personal protective measures should be promoted. If 20 to 40 are collected, larval mosquito control is recommended. If 40 to 100 are collected, humans are at increased risk for WNV transmission. Larval mosquito control is recommended and adulticide mosquito control should be considered. If more than 100 are collected, adulticide mosquito control is strongly recommended.

Currently, the state does not have funds to pay for mosquito control. However, a county with a Federal Disaster Declaration may be able to request federal reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for mosquito control once local resources have been exhausted. KDHE only has funds currently to pay for two weeks of surveillance in all 67 counties. Mosquito surveillance is critical to document the need for control, however, there may be other measures that can be used such as complaint calls from residents. There are commercial companies that can perform mosquito surveillance and mosquito control for a fee. You can find these companies online or contact KDHE for more information. Contact your county emergency management with questions regarding FEMA reimbursement.

More information on surveillance and mosquito control can be found under the resources section of the KDHE Arboviral Disease website at http://www.kdheks.gov/epi/arboviral_disease.htm.

KDHE recommends the following mosquito control activities:

Source Reduction

  • Empty standing water from tarps, old tires, buckets and other places where rainwater collects.
  • Refresh water for bird baths, pet bowls and wading pools at least every three days.
  • Use larvicide in areas where water cannot be removed.

Larvae Control

  • Larval source reduction is the single most effective means of vector control.
  • Larvicides target larvae in the breeding habitat before they mature into adult mosquitoes and should be the first line of defense when controlling floodwater mosquitoes.
  • Larvicides can be purchased at home improvement, farm supply stores or through pesticide distributors. Look for products containing Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) as this bacterium has no toxicity to people or animals and is approved for use for pest control in organic farming operations.

Adult Control

  • Adulticide should be used when deemed necessary, according to data gathered in surveillance activities or in response to public health needs.
  • When adult mosquito populations become too large to be managed by larvicide, adulticide spraying may be considered.

(Information and graphic courtesy KDHE and Russell County Health Department.)

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