Mosquitoes Out in New Orleans Area in Record Numbers

 In Mosquitoes Out in New Orleans Area in Record Numbers Mosquitoes Out in New Orleans Area in Record Numbers

By Maki Somosot, The Times-Picayune

Bolstered by a warm winter, mosquito numbers are unusually high for this time of year, the city’s Mosquito and Termite Control Board says, leading to lots of itchy ankles and raising concerns that airborne viruses will spread earlier than expected. Increased numbers of the southern house mosquito carrying the West Nile virus have been noted. Humans contract the virus through the bite of an infected mosquito, after it feeds on infected birds. The mosquito is commonly found in tropical climates, including southern Louisiana.

Eighty percent of people infected with the virus will not show any symptoms, but about one in 150 will develop severe neurological and muscular symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This year’s mild winter and early spring may have triggered the population boom. As a result, mosquitoes emerged six weeks earlier than they normally do, said Claudia Riegel, assistant director of the mosquito board.

Recent drought-like conditions also have forced mosquitoes and birds to seek out the same water sources. This has increased the risk of virus transmission between the species.

“The increase is widespread, so the whole city needs to take precaution,” says Sarah Michaels, an entomologist at the mosquito board. A similar trend has been noticed in Jefferson Parish, in the marshes and wooded areas on the West Bank.

City crews will spray pesticides in areas of the city where an increase in mosquitoes has been noted. Residents are still encouraged to be proactive.

Safety precautions include emptying water from open containers and ensuring that water in pools and fountains is moving. Items that could collect water, such as discarded tires, should be disposed of.

Residents should apply mosquito repellent when they go outside, particularly at night, when mosquitoes are most active. Mosquitoes’ peak activity is from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Mosquitoes Out in New Orleans Area in Record Numbers In Louisiana & Mississippi

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