High Mosquito Numbers Raise West Nile Awareness

“The mosquito population seems unbelievably large for this year,” said Tom Reichard, Environmental Health Director at District 10 in Cadillac, Mich.

Everybody knows it. Everywhere you go, they are there.

As mosquito populations rise, so does the potential for West Nile Virus.

“Last year, we had 36 people that were found to have West Nile statewide,” Reichard said.

The disease can strike suddenly and silently.

Last year, it killed two people.

“Most people, probably 75, 80 percent of people will not have symptoms at all,” Reichard said. “They will have West Nile and they won’t even know it.”

But for those who do get symptoms, it comes on like the flu.

“We treat the symptoms as much as we can but there isn’t an actual cure for West Nile,” Reichard said.

On first instinct, using bug spray directly on your skin is usually the first idea to come to mind when trying to get rid of bugs. However, there’s just more ways for you to make spray more effective.

“It’s best to put it on the clothes versus directly on the skin and that’s really true of any percentage of deet that you use,” Reichard said. “You typically treat the clothes first versus the skin.”

Still, even with weapons like bug spray on our side, it can be a losing battle.

“Gets turning towards night, you have to go right inside,” Steve Simon, Midland resident, said. “Then they pick me up and carry me in.”

In Cadillac, I’m Cody Boyer for 9&10 News at 6.

Other tips to avoid mosquitoes:   

    -Remove stagnant bodies of water from outside. These could be things like pool covers, spare tires, house eaves, rain buckets, amongst others. Removing the source of mosquito breeding is the best way to avoid them.

    -Wear long-sleeved pants and shirts outside. Keep skin covered.

    -Limit your time outside to high-sun times of day. Don’t be outside during dawn and dusk hours longer than you have to.

    -Use things like citronella candles, not bug zappers. Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and body heat, not light. Bug zappers don’t hurt…but they don’t help.

    -If you even suspect that you might have been infected with West Nile Virus, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms can be helped but the disease is incurable.