|Photo: Patrick Darnell|
Among other diseases carried by mosquitoes, West Nile virus has recently been spread in the United States. Twenty-eight human cases of West Nile virus have been reported around the nation in 2012.
With mosquito bites being such a common occurrence, especially in the evening hours, many residents are questioning what is being done locally to combat Encephalitis and West Nile virus. The answer lies not too far from your front door at the Lee County Mosquito Control District in Lehigh Acres.
The Lee County Mosquito Control District is attempting to preserve the health of local residents with a proactive, year round mosquito-borne disease surveillance program.
It is the only program in Florida able to test for mosquito borne disease in a multi-pronged approach. The program is made up of four parts.
The first part is sentinel chicken surveillance. This portion uses the appearance of mosquito-borne disease in chickens strategically placed around the county to monitor the transmission of disease among the disease’s reservoir host, birds.
The second part of the program is specialized adult mosquito trapping. This trapping is performed with CDC light traps to monitor the level of the vector mosquito, Culex nigripalpus.
The third part is the analysis of the collected vector mosquito using RT_PCR to detect the presence of viral RNA. This data indicates the presence of infected or potentially infected mosquitoes.
The final part is human investigation. Human case investigation involves determining when and where a disease was contracted. The disease contraction could be outside the neighborhood of the victim or outside the country. When a mosquito borne disease is detected in a sentinel chicken, mosquito or human the District responds immediately to control adult mosquitoes in the vicinity of the disease detection to try and prevent the further spread of the disease by mosquitoes.
The blood samples collected from the chickens will be spun down in a centrifuge. The sera is then tested using the Enzyme-linked ImmunoSorbent Assay also known as the ELISA method. The mosquitoes will be ground down and tested to determine if the mosquitoes have picked up a mosquito borne disease.