West Nile virus in St. Charles

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 3, 2008


Staff Reporter

BOUTTE – Just one month after finding mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus in Destrehan, St. Charles Parish officials say a sample collected from Boutte also contained the disease-infected bugs.

St. Charles Public Information Officer Renee Allemand said Mosquito Control Inc., the company that handles insect spraying for the parish, discovered the virus in mosquitoes collected in the Boutte area around June 20. She said the discovery was the fourth time West Nile Virus was found in St. Charles Parish this year.

Allemand said Mosquito Control Inc. reported finding West Nile in samples collected from Montz, Destrehan and Norco all in the past month. She said although the parish has yet to see a human outbreak of the virus, residents should continue to take measures to prevent bites from the insects.

Steven G. Pavlovich, an entomologist with Mosquito Control, recommended that parish residents limit exposure during dusk and dawn hours, cover up their arms and legs with light-colored clothing and use mosquito repellent that contains high levels of DEET. Pavlovich said perfumes and colognes can also attract the bugs.

Allemand said residents should also rid their yards of standing water to lessen available mosquito breeding grounds, including water in birdbaths, tires and gutters. She said Mosquito Control would be increasing spraying in the areas where the infected samples were found, and would also aggressively hit potential breeding grounds in the parish.

Symptoms of the most serious illness resulting from West Nile, West Nile Encephalitis, include flu-like symptoms, a decreased level of consciousness and swollen lymph nodes. Approximately 80 percent of those infected with the virus will not show any symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Residents are urged to contact their physicians if they develop flu-like symptoms 3 to 14 days after a mosquito bite.

For more information on West Nile Virus, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile.