St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement (STPMAD) has collected mosquitoes that have tested positive for infection with West Nile virus (WNV). The Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (LADDL), at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, reported one positive pool (group of multiple adult mosquitoes) of mosquitoes, or infected mosquitoes, collected from a trap in the City of Covington.
The presence of WNV in mosquitoes indicates an elevated risk to people in the area. Positive pools of mosquitoes are typically found this time of year as the West Nile virus season in St. Tammany also coincides with an increase in our primary vector, Culex quinquefasciatus (southern house mosquito). Residents can expect to see increased mosquito abatement efforts, including daytime larviciding of our roadside septic ditches and nighttime mosquito spraying with trucks, airplane, or helicopter.
The area will be treated by truck on the evening of Monday, June 28. The next evening, weather permitting, the area will be treated with a truck larvicide spray treatment to reduce mosquito larvae in the area. This truck-mounted larvicide mist sprayer looks and sounds very similar to the adulticiding trucks that residents are familiar with seeing during mosquito season. The larvicide mister will be dispatched to areas with increased disease risk, during evening hours, to treat mosquito larvae with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) or Bacillus sphaericus. Both of these larvicides are natural soil-borne bacteria, safe for organic farming, that kill mosquito larvae before they have a chance to become biting adults capable of spreading disease.
St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement (STPMAD) has noticed a significant increase in the number of freshwater mosquitoes collected in traps over recent weeks. Due to the large amount of rainfall the region has received recently with Tropical Storm Claudette, coastal areas across eastern St. Tammany Parish are experiencing a population explosion in freshwater mosquitoes, particularly in Avery Estates area. Mosquito production from a tropical system is often difficult to control as the source of mosquito production is often in inaccessible areas. In addition to making outdoor activities difficult, these mosquitoes are also competent vectors for West Nile virus.
STPMAD biologists are currently inspecting the marsh in the surrounding area to find the sources of these mosquitoes and treat the larvae before the adult mosquito population can increase further. The St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement fleet of trucks, airplanes, and helicopters allows the flexibility of treating to control both adult and larval mosquitoes over wide areas as well as precisely in difficult-to-reach areas. Larvicides are the first line of defense in combating mosquito populations as they specifically target mosquito larvae, preventing them from ever becoming adults capable of biting humans and spreading disease.
We ask residents to do their part to reduce their risk of contracting WNV by avoiding or minimizing exposure to biting mosquitoes by 1) wearing CDC recommended mosquito repellent such as those containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus; 2) avoiding peak biting times such as one hour before and after dusk and dawn; 3) wearing long sleeve shirts and pants, and 4) maintaining septic systems, as the WNV vector is sewage-associated. Once a week, residents should also walk around their homes to dump and drain any standing water. Residents who would like to be notified in advance of an aerial or truck treatment can register at www.stpmad.org to receive an automated message, by phone or text, when their zone is going to be treated. For additional information, please call St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement office (985) 643-5050.