Expect big mosquito crop this year

A colt was still a little wobbly on May 3 in this photo taken by Gardnerville resident Tim Berube. Horses can be vaccinated against west Nile virus, which can be lethal.

A colt was still a little wobbly on May 3 in this photo taken by Gardnerville resident Tim Berube. Horses can be vaccinated against west Nile virus, which can be lethal.

In the half-century Ron Lynch worked for the Douglas County Mosquito Abatement, this is the most water he’s seen in Carson Valley thanks to snowmelt.

“In 2007, I came to work for the district, and I agree that this is shaping up to be the worst mosquito season in the history of the mosquito abatement district,” said district Manager Krista Jenkins on Monday. “Snowmelt from this epic winter is ongoing, as we all know. The Douglas County Mosquito Abatement District has been treating since April; however, the flood water has expanded over a much larger part of the Valley than normal. Because of this expansion, the district’s typical workload of surveying, treating, monitoring, trapping and reporting will also be increased.”

There’s no shortage of snow left in the mountains to melt, and in a Memorial Day emergency declaration, Gov. Joe Lombardo’s office said it could be another seven weeks before the rivers finally subside.

“When the flooding event is over, that is when the real work will begin,” Jenkins said. “In the meantime, we are out in full force treating whatever standing water we can get to, be it by ground equipment, drone work, or hiring a fixed wing aircraft out of Utah for the big aerial applications.”

The district had used an aircraft out of Fallon for many decades, which kept the aircraft budget manageable, Jenkins said.

“However, this year the plane was not available,” she said. “After searching for several months, the district has agreed to use Vector Disease Control International.”

The district and the company are waiting for approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct aerial mosquito adulticide applications.

The district has used drones for the last three years and has expanded to a second drone to aid in the approval, which is far less expensive than contracting with an aircraft, but not as capable for the large swaths that require treatment.

“We will continue to ground fog in the neighborhoods,” Jenkins said.

During 2022, no mosquitoes trapped by the district tested positive for west Nile virus, but Jenkins thinks this year could be different.

“(The district) strongly recommends that everyone do their part to protect themselves,” she said. “We post regularly about the mosquito activity, testing results, and when, where and what time we will be in the neighborhoods ground fogging.”

More information on mosquito repellents, barrier sprays and tips for reducing the mosquito threat are available at dcmosquito.org.

“You are also welcome to contact us through the website, including registering your beehive locations,” Jenkins said.

There is no human vaccine for west Nile virus, but there is one for horses.

According to the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the mosquito-borne disease can cause serious illness targeting a horse’s brain, spinal cord, and nervous system

The state monitors the virus and other diseases carried by mosquitos throughout the state to ensure the protection of public health and the agriculture industry.

“The NDA tests sample pools of mosquitos throughout Nevada to monitor for diseases like WNV,” said Animal Disease Laboratory Supervisor Laura Morrow. “The Animal Disease Laboratory surveys and tests for these diseases and reports the results to local health departments and vector control agencies.”

Taking precautions such as using insect repellents, eliminating mosquito-breeding sites including standing water, and keeping horses vaccinated against WNV and equine encephalitis is strongly encouraged for all horse owners.

“Eliminating unnecessary standing water around barns and residences along with the use of deterrents can help keep mosquitos away from people and animals,” said State Veterinarian J.J Goicoechea.

West Nile and equine encephalitis have been detected in Nevada and can cause significant illness and death in both horses and humans. Both are reportable diseases in Nevada meaning that detections must be reported to the state.


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