Warm, Rainy Weather Could Increase Mosquito Population, West Nile Risk

By Dina Kaplan

(LOUISVILLE, June 14th, 2004, 6 p.m.) -- The hot, humid weather we've been having is the perfect breeding temperature for mosquitos. Last year there were no human cases of West Nile in Kentucky, but this year the Health Department has new concerns. WAVE 3's Dina Kaplan reports.

This year the task of treating standing water is more important than ever. Louisville Mosquito Coordinator Connie Willis She says they're alreadying seeing "higher numbers than we normally would" this time of year.

Willis expects a surge of mosquitos this summer for two reasons: a warm spring and rainy weather. "For the past two months, we're almost 10 inches above normal, which is a huge amount," Willis says.

Strong showers often bring standing water, and Willis says that "is the beginning of the cycle -- standing water creates mosquito breeding sites."

That may explain why a bird in Ohio county recently tested positive for West Nile more than a month before the disease usually surfaces.

So now the health department is being aggressive, collecting mosquitos in traps throughout Louisville. "When the traps are brought in, we freeze the mosquitos," Willis. says. "Last week, we had a count of 998 from that one trap."

Once caught, the mosquitos are sorted by species, then tested for West Nile.

And every day it doesn't rain Willis and other summer workers place larvicide in large bodies of standing water. But employees can't visit every back yard. So with the mosquito population expected to soar this year, the health department recommends people buy larvicide of their own.

Online Reporter: Dina Kaplan

Online Producer: Michael Dever