Heavy Rains Spark Fears of Mosquitoes

TOLEDO -- Several recent bouts with heavy rains and flooding have led to a population explosion among mosquitos.  In two separate storms, the Toledo area got as much as ten inches of rain, and left puddles that are perfect breeding grounds for the winged pests.  That has some people wondering about the diseases that mosquitoes can spread, like lime disease and West Nile Virus.

"Whether that interprets into a higher risk for West Nile, we're not certain," said Toledo-Lucas County Health Commissioner David Grossman.  Grossman also says the fact that the region was exposed to West Nile a few years ago has no bearing on people's immunity to the virus.  "If someone has had exposure to West Nile, we do presume they will have immunity.  It's like getting a flu shot, but you have the illness.  Those who have been exposed have some immunity.  Probably some of were exposed, but did not get sick because we're carrying immunity without knowing it," said Grossman.

To combat the invasion, insecticide-spraying crews are moving from west to east across Lucas County. Friday they'll finish their second pass, then head back west to start the whole process again.  Individual backyard complaints are being handled by the district. On Wednesday, they logged 300 calls -- a record number. Every part of the county is affected by the invasion.

Lee Mitchell, with the Toledo area sanitary district, said, "This is the worst year we've had in the last six years. Been spoiled during five of last six years. This is a wet year. Above average rainfall in May and June. When you have a wet year, that means lots of standing water."

Grossman also says a number of factors will determine what effect West Nile will have this year.  "We see how our summer goes and see how our rate and index of West Nile is, that will give us an indication of how severe.  Again, its hard to say if that's a direct correlation to immunity, or people did all the right things and prevented bites from mosquitos all they could," said Grossman.

Preventing mosquito bites is a priority for Jennifer Subleski and her neighbors in Sylvania.    Soggy backyards have become a haven for mosquitos.  Jennifer says county mosquito sprayers told her it would be a few days until they get to the neighborhood.

All the kids and pets led Jennifer and her neighbors to brew a concoction at home to repel the blood-sucking pests.  "It is safe and all natural.  It's made with chewing tobacco, dish soap and Listerine," said Jennifer, as she boiled a pot of tobacco leaves.  Broth from the strained tobacco leaves is combined with equal parts of plain Listerine mouthwash and liquid dishwashing detergent.

They've been putting the homemade repellent into a pressure sprayer and spraying it in places where mosquitos thrive.  "It's so bad the kids can't go out and play after dark.  You can't sit out in your yard," said Jennifer.

Jennifer hopes the homemade spray will keep the annoying insects at bay until the county spray trucks arrive in the neighborhood.

Under authority of the Sanitary District Act of Ohio, the Toledo Area Sanitary District (TASD) was started Sept. 27, 1945.  It has been spraying for mosquitoes ever since.

On the Web:
Toledo Area Sanitation District Mosquito Control: http://www.tasd-mosquitos.org/index.asp
Lucas County Health Department: http://www.co.lucas.oh.us/health/
CDC Fact Sheet on West Nile Virus: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm
CDC Fact Sheet on Mosquito Repellents: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/mosquitorepellent.htm

Posted by AEB