Local municipalities fighting West Nile

Published 10:17 am Monday, July 28, 2014

Washington Parish municipalities are currently spraying for mosquitos, and public works directors said the public can help remove the threat of West Nile virus by taking simple preventative measures.

The West Nile virus is spread by mosquitos. According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, 90 percent of West Nile cases are asymptomatic, but about 10 percent of people infected will develop West Nile fever.

Last week, the DHH reported the state’s first West Nile death and six new cases of West Nile virus.

“West Nile virus is a disease that should not be taken lightly,” said Dr. Raoult Ratard, state epidemiologist. “As long as the mosquitos are out, everyone is at risk. Protection is as simple as wearing mosquito repellant and covering your skin.”

Bogalusa Public Works Director James Hall said mosquito spraying in the city began on April 10. Each of the city’s two trucks operate for four hours on each side of town in the morning and evening, he said.

“It’s a continuous cycle,” Hall said. “The trucks don’t stop.”

Hall, who been with Public Works for 18 years, including nine as director, provided some tips for the public.

“The main thing people need to do is keep water from being puddled up in their yards,” Hall said. “The biggest breeding ground for mosquitoes is a magnolia leaf. Water gets under that leaf and mosquitoes will lay in that water.

“There’s not a day without spraying going on in Bogalusa.”

Hall said homeowners should remove standing water from any buckets or flowerpots and places where water has collected. He added that there are still three or four months left to worry about mosquitoes and the illnesses they carry.

“It won’t slow down until we get that first frost on the ground,” Hall said.

Hall recommended people wear light-colored clothing, have on plenty of mosquito repellant and wear long-sleeved shirts to keep the body covered up.

“It’s been proven mosquitoes like dark-colored clothing,” Hall said.

David Pigott, who drives one of Franklinton’s mosquito spraying trucks, said mosquitoes seem to be under control.

“We’re spraying two nights per week on Mondays and Thursdays from 6-10 p.m.,” Pigott said. “It takes about four hours to make a round. We pretty much have the mosquitoes under control because we’ve been spraying so heavily.”

Pigott said Franklinton has been spraying for about two months.

“It’s a little bit better than when we first started,” Pigott said.

Pigott added some suggestions of his own for combating mosquitoes.

“Keep your grass cut short,” Pigott said. “If you’re outside at night, build a fire to let the smoke run them off.”

Varnado Clerk Mary Adams said the village is spraying for mosquitoes twice per week.

“It seems to be doing a great job for us,” Adams said. “We’re not having too many complaints about mosquitoes.”

The village has one truck to spray for mosquitoes. It operates from 5-6:30 p.m., on the assigned days.