Grab the bug spray. It will soon be peak season for disease-carrying mosquitoes in Minnesota.
The highest risk for mosquito-borne disease is mid-July through August according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Pest mosquitoes have been out in force for weeks, but the types of mosquitoes that cause serious disease are multiplying quickly.
"What we're hearing from the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District here in the Twin Cities is that, as of last week, the type of mosquito that transmits West Nile virus, it's just beginning to come out in good numbers now," said Dave Neitzel, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health. "We expect that the risk of West Nile virus transmission will increase here as we get into mid-July."
The type of mosquito that carries West Nile virus is found primarily in the open, agricultural areas of west central Minnesota and along the western edge of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Mosquitoes that transmit LaCrosse encephalitis virus live mostly in wooded areas throughout southeastern Minnesota.
"The mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus are mainly active at dusk and dawn. So if you're out watching the fireworks, make sure you put on the mosquito repellent," Neitzel said. "And then the tree hole mosquito that transmits LaCrosse encephalitis virus, that's a day-active mosquito. So if your kids are playing out in the woods during the day make sure they're wearing some mosquito repellent then."
The West Nile virus has been detected in a sample of mosquitoes taken from Carver County, according to MMCD, but no human cases of West Nile illness have been confirmed this summer in Minnesota.