Acadia continues to dodge West Nile
Acadia Parish has thus far managed to avoid any human cases of West Nile virus while the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said earlier this week that three new cases were reported in the state during the past week.
Of those new cases, one — in Lafayette — involves the serious brain and spinal cord infection.
The remaining two — one in Ouachita Parish and the other in Morehouse Parish — are the less serious West Nile Fever.
The case in Lafayette brings to 10 the number of human cases of West Nile in that parish. Seven of those cases involve the serious neuroinvasive strain of the virus.
In Ouachita Parish, the newest report brings to 19 the number of human cases, 13 of which are the neuroinvasive strain.
To date, there have been no reported cases of West Nile virus in humans in Acadia Parish, that according to Glenn Stokes, CEO of Mosquito Control Contractors, Inc., the parish contractor for mosquito control.
In fact, Stokes said only two “indicators” of the virus has been found in the parish this “season” — both in sentinel chickens.
Stokes told members of the Acadia Parish Police Jury recently that, while there has been a recent outbreak of Dark Ricefield mosquitoes, “these are not good carriers of the West Nile virus.”
He explained that Lafayette Parish has seen an influx of the Southern House and Asian Tiger mosquitoes, both “principal carriers” of the virus.
“Besides that, we apparently don’t have the bird population here that harbors West Nile,” Stokes added.
MCCI currently has 10 spray trucks working in Acadia Parish, according to Stokes.
“If we spray morning and night — and we do — we can cover the entire parish is a day,” said Stokes. “We’re doing a massive amount of spraying this year, and it’s the middle of October. Five years ago that was unheard of.”
Besides the warmer weather, Stokes said the actual number of mosquitoes has been higher this year than the Gustav/Ike season.
While the trucks are on the roads seven days a week, Stokes reminds citizens that the drivers do not turn into long driveways unless the homeowner contacts his office and requests the service.
“We can’t just go down someone’s private drive without being invited,” he said.
He said homeowners can request that the driveways be sprayed each time a truck is that zone. The parish, meanwhile, is working to implement some sort of sticker that can be placed on mailboxes or on stakes at the end of these driveways to indicate to the spray-truck drivers that it is okay to spray there.
“We try to keep the same drivers in the same zones, but it doesn’t always work out,” Stokes said.
To date, there have been two West Nile-related deaths so far this year in Louisiana.
Hopefully, Stokes said, as the weather cools, the mosquito population will drop off.
“Mosquitoes can’t fly if the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit,” he said. “I’ve never come across a mosquito in Louisiana that can fly when it’s colder than 50 degrees.”
To report mosquito outbreaks or to request services, call MCCI at 785-4456.