Mosquito spraying for West Nile to start Sept. 4

Mosquito spray will be applied within the city of Huntington this week following the discovery of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus within Huntington County.

The spray will be applied the evenings of Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 4 and 5, weather permitting, says Traci Little, environmental health and food specialist with the Huntington County Department of Health.

Spraying will be done only within the Huntington city limits. It will be delayed in the event of rain or high winds or if the temperature drops below 60 degrees, Little says.

"Residents should make sure they protect themselves when outside during those times," a health department news release notes.

There are no plans to continue spraying for mosquitoes after the initial application, Little says.

"We're getting close to the end of the season for mosquitoes," she says.

The Indiana Department of Health recently confirmed the presence of the West Nile virus in samples of mosquitoes taken from Huntington County, making the county the 36th in the state to have a positive result. The first signs of the West Nile virus in Indiana were confirmed in June, and numbers have increased with the rising temperatures.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird. A person bitten by an infected mosquito may show symptoms three to 15 days after the bite.

The virus usually causes a mild form of illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash, the state health department says. However, a small number of individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.  Since 2002, more than 20 Hoosiers have died from the illness.

Joe Rakoczy, chief environmental sanitarian for Huntington County Department of Health, recommends people take the following protective steps:

• Avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times, dusk to dawn, when possible.

• Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothing and exposed skin.

• Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.

• When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outside.

Rakoczy also recommends these steps to rid properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds:

• Discard old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water.

• Repair failed septic systems.

• Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.

• Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed.

• Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains.

• Frequently replace the water in pet bowls.

• Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically.

• Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with predatory fish.

For additional information about mosquito spraying in the city of Huntington, call Little at 358-4833.