Mosquitos suffer during tough winter

Mosquitos suffer during tough winter

After a warm and rainy winter in 2011, area mosquito control divisions are seeing a sharp decline in calls for service, especially during the winter months of 2012.

Patrick Beebe, director of the Orange County Mosquito Control District, presented Orange County Commissioners with a quarterly report from the end of last year and an annual mosquito-borne viral activity report on Monday, Jan. 14 at their regular meeting. The report spanned months Oct., Nov. and Dec. of 2012. While the mosquito population was lower than at the same time in 2011, instances of viruses, including the West Nile Virus, were up significantly for 2012.

Beebe reported the volume of requests for service during the last quarter of 2012 was much lower than the volume of requests at the same time in 2011. He said weather, along with the mosquito control measures in use by the county, are factors in the reduced mosquito population in the area. According to Beebe, in Oct. and Nov. of 2012, his office received only 6 calls per month. In Dec., his office received no service request calls. In Oct. 2011, Beebe said his office received 453 requests for service rather than the mere 6 received last year at the same time.

Regarding mosquito-borne viral activity, Beebe said, “(Texas) had a bad year in 2012.” In Orange County in 2012, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) confirmed five collections of mosquitoes testing positive for the West Nile virus, one collection testing positive for the Keystone virus and one collection testing positive for an unknown “something,” which was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for identification. Beebe said the DSHS also confirmed two human West Nile fever cases. He said the fever cases, while disturbing, are not as serious as the West Nile Neuroinvasive disease that the virus could cause. The DSHS reported no cases of the neuroinvasive disease in Orange County as of Nov. 30, 2012.

Kevin Sexton, director of the mosquito control division in Jefferson County, said he too has seen a marked decline in mosquito activity.

“This winter is in direct contrast to last winter,” he said. “I mean, total opposites.”

Sexton went on to say the weather has directly impacted the decline.

“This winter it’s been perfect as far as not having them (mosquitoes) because we’ve had a lot of cold spells,” he said. “We’ve had plenty of rain, but the water temperature is really too cold for them to be hatching.”

Sexton said his department will begin its annual testing for West Nile virus at the start of the mosquito season, during the spring of 2013.

“We don’t start testing until around early to the middle of May, and then we’ll quit testing around the first of October,” he said. “That’s really the peak months.”

According to DSHS in Jefferson County, West Nile tests resulted in 13 total cases, including seven human cases of West Nile fever and four cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease.

Sexton said he’s glad area residents haven’t been inundated with mosquitos as they were during the winter of 2011.

“Nobody has called,” he said.