Two more positive West Nile samples ID’ed in St. BernardAug 3rd, 2012 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: News
St. Bernard Parish Government confirmed on July 27 two positive samples of the West Nile Virus, bringing this season’s grand total of positive samples to five.
Although the number West Nile cases found in St. Bernard isn’t that big of a jump from previous years, officials have noticed that the virus has sprung up earlier than ever. The state’s first case of West Nile was found in St. Bernard Parish last month.
“Five positive samples in a given season is a bit much; it’s not freakishly high–in 2007 we had somewhere around 20 positive samples– but the fact that they came up so early does cause some concern,” said Chief Administrative Officer Jerry Graves Jr.
Currently, the Mosquito Control department bases it’s spray schedule on the number and location of positive samples found. The parish is split up into 20 different Mosquito Control zones, and EPA regulations limit the number of drive-by sprays to 30 times in each zone, per year.
The parish also combats the bloodsucking pests with flyover treatments, using the pesticide dibrom. Since dibrom has less stringent EPA guidelines, than the permanome–the pesticide used in drive-by treatments–flyovers can be done more frequently. Additionally, flyover treatments have been estimated to eliminate as much as 90 percent of the treated areas mosquito population. However, the high costs of flyover treatments limit the parish from utilizing it heavily: one flyover session costs over $5,000.
Mosquito Control gets samples analyzed by LSU’s Arboviral Center weekly. The department then bases its spray schedule on both the findings of those samples and on something known as a count test. A count test entails a Mosquito Control staff member physically standing out in a sample area, while another staffer counts how many mosquitos actually land on him.
The most recent positive samples were found in the Palmisano Blvd. area and Graves says that when positive samples are found Mosquito Control “picks up the pace” on drive-by spraying while staying within the EPA’s guidelines.
Meanwhile, the parish encourages residents to take the necessary steps to stop mosquitoes from breeding, which means eliminating anything capable of holding water like buckets, flower pots and bird baths; and to wear repellant when spending time outdoors.