Mosquito abatement added to disaster emergency declaration

Local officials are worried about the spread of the West Nile virus.

BOISE – Recent and prolonged flooding across the Treasure Valley is a recipe for a particularly bad mosquito season.

But now, experts are preparing for the worst.

Ada County has added its Mosquito Abatement District to the Local Disaster Emergency Declaration that was declared back in March for flooding.

Mosquitoes aren’t just pests in Idaho, they can spread deadly diseases like West Nile virus and the abatement district is trying to be proactive.

Standing stagnant water from flooding makes an ideal breeding ground for the insects, but you would be surprised to know how little water it takes.

Declaring a local disaster to help combat mosquitoes isn’t typical, but Sam Holt, education specialist with the Mosquito Abatement District, says this isn’t a typical year for Idaho.

“Oh mosquitoes, we are already quadrupling the numbers we had for Culex mosquitoes, which carry West Nile virus, which is still a very real threat to us here in Idaho,” said Holt. “We have estimated with the amount of flooding it has been close to 3.9 square miles, which given flow and agitation, that can add up to just one square mile of primitive mosquito raising habitat, which adds up to millions of mosquitoes every few days.”

According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, nine cases of symptomatic West Nile virus were reported in 2016.

There have been no reports this years, but Holt says being added to the local flooding disaster declaration, the district can expand their budget to take preventative measures.

“It would allow us to do if needed, aerial applications and treat a lot more acres in a short amount of time, to just be able to knock down the population of mosquitoes before they are able to hatch and start spreading diseases,” said Holt.

Holt says residents can help too by getting rid of any standing water on your property that may be in buckets, a bird bath or even a piece of trash that could collect water.

“It only takes a teaspoon of water to breed mosquitoes,” he said.

Holt says the public can also check different areas around the county for hotspots.

“We do have an online public map where everyone can see where we trap mosquitoes,” said Holt. “They can even see what species are around their house and they can see all the dates of where its tested positive for West Nile.”

© 2017 KTVB-TV

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