To be out at either dawn or dusk during a Minnesota summer means facing a pest that one must deal with as part of the environment – the mosquito.
No one likes them, and that disdain for the pest has grown in recent years, as the persistent scratching after being bitten has been replaced with concerns about something much more serious. Some, but not all, of the mosquitos who call this area home carry what is known as West Nile Virus (WNV).
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, WNV is the most commonly reported mosquito-transmitted disease in Minnesota. From now through mid-September is the prime time for those mosquitos carrying WNV to spread it to humans.
Dave Neitzel, an epidemiologist with the state health department, the mosquito that carries WNV, known as Culex Tarsalis, is being found now, although as of Wednesday morning there have not been any confirmed cases of WNV reported.
"The risk is at its highest starting in mid-July," Neitzel said, adding 2012 was a busy year for WNV with 70 confirmed cases and one fatality.
Redwood County is considered a higher risk area, as the WNV carrier prefers open agricultural areas which are, of course, prevalent in this area.
Neitzel said the WNV mosquito thrives in prairie areas, and ag regions are the closest thing most of them are going to experience when it comes to their ideal setting.
One may have noticed there appears to be a strong population of mosquitos this year, and according to the Minnesota Depart-ment of Natural Re-sources (DNR), the heavy rains that fell a couple of weeks ago really helped the mosquito to thrive.
In ag areas Neitzel said farms with shelterbelts become ideal settings for mosquitos, as they use them during the day when they are resting and then come out in force as the sun goes down.
Mosquitos feed most often during the dawn and dusk hours, so if one was looking for a time to avoid them that would be it.
Of course, in this area, those times are when the weather conditions are also idea for humans as they are cooler. That means, said Neitzel, the public needs to have the proper mosquito repellent to ward off the pest and to prevent WNV.
The department of health recommends bug spray for adults needs to include 30 percent DEET. The health department also recommends using a bug spray with a DEET content not to exceed 15 percent for kids.
The health department and the DNR recommend those who are going to be in areas where mosquitos are going to be apparent should:
• Wear mosquito repellent.
• Wear long sleeve shirts and pants.
• Avoid those peak hours at dawn and dusk when possible.
Page 2 of 2 - • Eliminate water holding containers and tires to help reduce themosquito numbers.
Neitzel said there are a number of mosquito species, and most of them do not carry WNV.
For more information about WNV and mosquitos visit the health department Web site at www.health.state.mn.us or the DNR Web site www.dnr.state.mn.us.