Mosquitoes in Scott County tested positive this week for West Nile virus, the first report of the virus in Minnesota this year.
Kirk Johnson, an ecologist for the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District, said it's the typical time of year that all sorts of mosquitoes emerge, including those that carry the virus. He said hot and wet weather may have boosted the mosquito population.
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"We have other mosquito species that will bite birds or mammals," Johnson said. "They can become exposed to the virus by feeding on an infected bird, then later can transfer the virus to a human or a horse and cause an illness."
Johnson said people can reduce the amount of mosquitoes by policing their yards.
"Make sure that they don't have standing water, especially in small containers, tires," Johnson said. "Mosquitoes will lay their eggs in just about anything that holds water for a few days, even something as small as the saucer under a flowerpot can be producing mosquitoes in their own backyard."
West Nile virus has been found in Minnesota every year since its arrival in the state in 2002. Last year, there were 73 cases of West Nile virus in Minnesota, including three deaths. An agency spokesperson said there haven't been any reports of the virus in humans yet this year.
Other Metropolitan Mosquito Control District recommendations for minimizing exposure to West Nile virus:
• Check yards and neighborhoods for water-holding containers and recycle or dump them out (it can take less than a week for mosquitoes to develop in standing water)
• Make sure window screens are in good repair
• Wear long-sleeved, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing
• Use mosquito repellent (be sure to follow label directions)
• Whenever possible, avoid prolonged outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active