Summer's nearly over, but West Nile virus threat isn't

Tracking West Nile virus across Idaho.

BOISE - Summer is coming to an end. If that thought makes you sad, at least you can look forward to the end of  mosquito season too.

For now though, as long as Idaho has warm days, the mosquitoes will be sticking around, and so will the risk of west Nile virus.

All the flooding that happened across the Valley this year caused public health officials to predict a bad mosquito season. Thankfully though, it looks like that isn’t happening.

In 2016 Idaho saw nine reported cases of human West Nile virus infections across the state. This year, there have been 10.

Adam Schroeder, director of Ada County Weed, Pest, and Mosquito Abatement, says the about average number can be traced to mosquito spraying early in the season.

"If we hadn't of done those aerial applications early in the year, it would have been exponentially worse," said Schroeder.

Still though, this year there have been four reported cases of human West Nile virus in Ada County.          

Almost all of those were reported in the month of August.

Two cases are of the more severe neuro-invasive type of the virus. That type can infect the brain or spinal cord and lead to very serious illness or death. The other two are fever-based viruses.

Statewide, five of the 10 confirmed cases are neuro-invasive.

Ada County Mosquito Abatement says they have found six new spots that have tested positive for West Nile virus in the last week.

Those spots now join the 30 other positive tests that have been found this year across the county.

The new finds are a reminder that mosquito season still has a ways to go.     

Christine Myron with Central District Health says September is still a time people need to be careful.

"The mosquitoes that tend to carry West Nile hatch in the late summertime. Initially it's feeding on birds and other animals and then it switches it's focus to us, humans, so that is why we see it this time of year, said Myron.

Typically Idaho mosquito season ends when the weather is below 50 degrees consistently. That usually happens the first part of October.

So until then, experts say you should continue to keep mosquito protection in mind, and wear bug spray, especially if you are going to be near lakes and rivers.

"Anyone who is going to be out around dusk or dawn can wear long sleeves longer pants, that’s easier this time of year as the temperatures dip a bit," said Myron.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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