West Nile Virus on Decline

1 decade 2 years 2 weeks ago Friday, July 07 2006 Jul 7, 2006 Friday, July 07, 2006 6:17:47 PM CDT July 07, 2006 in News

Eddie Hedrick of the Missouri Health Department knows mosquitoes breed just about anywhere there's standing water "even the draining dishes underneath them, the flower pots. Often we don't think about that, but water will stand there."

And, where there are mosquitoes, there may also be West Nile virus. But, up to now, health and environmental officials said this has been a good year.

"We've been, I'll say, lucky so far," said Jim Hull of the state Department of Natural Resources. "We're a little bit later getting started."

Hedrick said the virus is on the decline in Missouri. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded 7 confirmed cases in birds in Boone County in 2003-2004. Only 3 cases were recorded last year. And this year there's been only one case in the county so far.

One reason for the drop could be fewer breeding grounds.

"We've cleaned up over 13 millions tires in the state so far since the inception of the program," said Hull, adding that each tire provides a place for mosquitos to lay up to one million eggs.

But, cleaning up tires doesn't mean the virus will disappear.

"This is a virus that will stick around with us for a while," Hedrick warned, although he said efforts to keep it under control will continue to reduce the threat. Other factors, such as climate change, could also be contributing to West Nile's decline. But, Hedrick said people should still use bug spray and get rid of standing water.

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