Floods Unleash Mosquito Swarm: Early West Nile Virus Warning!

Mosquito Season Intensifies with Flooding and Early West Nile Virus Detection

Heavy rains and historic flooding are exacerbating an already intense mosquito season. The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District (MMCD) reports that the additional water is increasing the time spent treating wetlands from helicopters. Along with this surge in mosquito activity, early West Nile virus detection has raised concerns.

“We’re significantly ahead of where we were last year. Our helicopters have been deployed almost weekly, and we’ve increased ground treatments,” said Alex Carlson, public affairs manager at MMCD.

New Mosquito Habitats Due to Flooding

“Flooded areas, particularly where rivers are overflowing, are creating new mosquito habitats that we hadn’t anticipated. This suggests a particularly active mosquito season, with no sign of it slowing down soon,” Carlson added.

Despite the current surge in mosquito activity, Carlson notes that this year isn’t as severe as some previous years. “We’re still below the 10-year average, mainly due to a lower number of ‘Cattail Mosquitoes,’” he explained. “The drought conditions from last year and the year before have reduced their numbers, and our predictions have proven accurate.”

Early Detection of West Nile Virus

However, mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance. The MMCD collects and tests thousands of mosquitoes each week. This year, an early detection of West Nile virus was confirmed from a batch collected on June 18 in Anoka County.

Carlson points out that this is an unusually early detection of the virus, which typically appears later in the summer. “Most people infected with West Nile virus are asymptomatic, but older adults and those with weakened immune systems can experience severe illness, and fatalities have occurred in Minnesota,” Carlson said.

Personal Impact of West Nile Virus

Richard Moberg, from the northeast metro, knows firsthand how serious West Nile can be. Two decades ago, after playing golf, Moberg contracted the virus and spent two months in and out of consciousness. “I had tubes everywhere and couldn’t walk or lift even the lightest objects. I lost all of my strength,” Moberg recounted.

Current Status and Prevention Tips

As of Monday, the Minnesota Department of Health has not reported any human cases of West Nile virus this year. To protect against mosquito bites, the MMCD advises the following:

  • Remove any unnecessary standing water from your yard.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants.
  • Use insect repellent.

The MMCD also emphasizes that not all bug sprays are equally effective. Different active ingredients, such as DEET, may work differently for individuals, so it’s important to find a repellent that suits your needs.

Staying Safe This Mosquito Season

In light of the early West Nile virus detection and the heightened mosquito activity, taking preventive measures is crucial to stay safe this season.


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