West Nile war opens; virus detected here

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 24, 2004

By LEONARD GRAY – Managing Editor

MONTZ – As news broke on the state health department’s “open war” on disease-carrying mosquitoes, a dead sparrow in Montz has tested positive for the potentially dangerous West Nile virus.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals announced Monday its surveillance of the disease, with testing labs for dead birds set up at LSU’s Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab.

However, Wayne Machado of Mosquito Control Inc. has already found one sparrow in the Montz area, located on March 9, which tested positive for West Nile.

Last year’s West Nile outbreak turned up 121 human cases and seven deaths in Louisiana.

By Tuesday, Machado already launched spraying in the area. Machado cautioned the mosquito breed mostly likely to carry the virus commonly breeds near homes, in any water-bearing container.

He urges homeowners to police their own yards for potential sites of stagnant water.

The worst times for mosquito swarming are dawn and dusk, with senior citizens and small children most at risk.

Machado has already contacted parish officials, so that they can caution their citizens.

If a dead bird is found, call the local health unit for pickup and testing.