Wayne County efforts under way to reduce West Nile virus

Photo by Mary Mazur
One of the Mosquito traps set in Wayne County communities to monitor mosquitoes and detect the presence of West Nile virus in residential areas.

Environmental initiative includes mosquito monitoring and larvicide program

Wayne County’s Environmental Health Division has begun its annual mosquito monitoring program to detect the presence of West Nile virus in the county.

The initiative, funded through a grant from the Michigan Department of Community Health, serves as an early warning system for WNV infection, which can be spread to humans by mosquitoes.

Monitoring began June 16 and lasts through September, when the risk of infection is highest. Mosquito traps have been set in the 42-community Wayne County Public Health jurisdiction (outside Detroit), including the Downriver area, Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.

One hundred mosquito samples from these traps will be tested and monitored by the Wayne County Health Department for the virus during the three-month summer period.

Wayne County’s department of public services, including the divisions of Facilities Management, Parks, Roads, and Water Quality Management, are also assisting in the 2014 prevention efforts. Mosquito larvicide will be placed in standing water on county properties and storm water catch basins at maintenance yard facilities to eliminate breeding pools.

“West Nile virus transmitted by mosquitoes is a serious public health concern to residents, and each year prevention is key,” County Executive Robert Ficano said. “These environmental measures can help Wayne County monitor and control mosquito populations more effectively, making the outdoors safer for residents to enjoy this summer season.”

Individuals age 50 and over are at greater risk of being sickened by West Nile virus, and all residents are advised to avoid exposure to mosquitoes and their bites. In 2013, nine people became ill and one died in the Wayne County Health Department jurisdiction. The virus reached epidemic proportions nationwide in 2003, and most recently in 2012.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WNV has now expanded to all 48 contiguous states. There is no vaccine for humans.

For more information on West Nile virus and ways people can “fight the bite,” go to www.waynecounty.com/hhs/WestNile.htm,  www.cdc.gov/westnile or call Wayne County’s West Nile virus Hotline at 734-727-7445.