Less mosquitoes, but still a threat - KLFY News 10

Less mosquitoes, but still a threat

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If you haven't noticed many mosquitoes outside this summer, that's because mosquito control was beefed up this season. Experts say less of the bugs doesn't mean less threat of the deadly viruses they carry.

Entomologist Glen stokes says indicators are showing the first human case of West Nile in Louisiana this year, could possibly happen right here in Acadiana. However at the same time an experiment going on in Florida could be the first step to eradicating diseases they carry.

Stokes with Mosquito Control Contractors says this season has been rather unusual. Increased spraying efforts has led to less mosquitoes, but an elevated number of West Nile findings are alarming them.

"A dead bird that was positive, 8 sentinel chickens that were positive, and now a mosquito pool is positive," says Stokes.

Stokes says those indicators most likely means a human case of West Nile is not far behind.

"Mosquito bites could result in West Nile," affirms Stokes.

However an experiment going on in Key West, Florida could be the first step to eradicating deadly diseases the bugs carry. Scientists are planning to release thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes that will hopefully eliminate Dengue fever.

It's something we fortunately do not have in Louisiana, but Stokes says it could be a stepping stone to attack West Nile.

"Keep my fingers crossed and hope it does work," says Stokes, " that predicts potential in other kinds of mosquitoes."

Stokes says there are multiple ways of altering mosquitoes to diminish their numbers. Like releasing sterile males or shortening life expectancy of future generations. However it's expensive, and Florida's budget is massive compared to Louisiana's when it comes to mosquito abatement.

"There's 62 different species of mosquitoes in the state of Louisiana," explains Stokes, "not all of those transmit West Nile, for sure we know as many as 8 do."

Stokes says if the time comes the two main species to genetically modify first would be the Southern House and Asian Tiger Mosquito as they are the most common carriers of West Nile.

The experiment in Florida should provide results quickly as mosquito life cycles are under a week.

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