West Nile Virus detected in 2 popular Ames parks. City to continue fogging

Mosquitoes found in some Ames parks have been found to be carrying West Nile Virus the summer of 2022.
Mosquitoes found in some Ames parks have been found to be carrying West Nile Virus the summer of 2022.

Mosquitos trapped at Emma McCarthy Lee Park and Moore Memorial Park in Ames have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The city is fogging these parks about twice a week until mosquito traps show the virus no longer is a concern, said Joshua Thompson, Ames parks and facilities superintendent.

"Since it has been so dry, the mosquito counts are low, but since WNV has been identified, we have been fogging and will continue as long as it is being identified … probably fogging for a couple more weeks," Thompson said.

Testing in the Ames area has been conducted by Iowa State University and the University Hygienic Lab. While there is a lag between collecting the samples and the testing, the results suggest mosquitoes with the potential to carry the West Nile Virus are likely still present in the community, the city said in a press release.

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“Historically, we are moving into the peak season of WNV transmission, so preventative measures such as spraying, larvicide and removal of standing water in the area can reduce mosquito populations," said Ryan Smith of the ISU Department of Entomology.

"Indications of these mosquitoes are not anything new, but these test results provide an opportunity to remind people to take precautions when they are outdoors."

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, eight of 10 people infected with the virus will have no symptoms. Approximately one in five infected will develop flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and rash.

Most will recover completely but may experience several weeks of fatigue. About one in 150 people infected will develop a severe illness.

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How to avoid the bite

Avoiding mosquito bites is the best way of limiting the risk of mosquito-transmitted illness. Smith said wearing mosquito repellent or long-sleeved shirts and long pants can prevent bites, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes that transmit the virus are most active.

"The most effective way to eliminate mosquitoes is to remove standing water in residential areas where even a small amount of standing water from flower pots, buckets, or barrels can be enough for a mosquito to lay eggs," Smith said.

The Ames Parks and Recreation Department typically uses a multi-step program for mosquito control, including surveillance through trapping at multiple park locations and testing completed by the Iowa State University Department of Entomology. Based on surveillance and results from testing, staff completes larviciding to kill mosquito larvae and fogging to control adult mosquitoes.

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“The chemical we use for mosquito fogging has been tested and registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) multiple times. It is one of the safest chemicals for people and the environment and one of the most effective at controlling mosquitoes,” Thompson said.

Park areas will be fogged between 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., weather permitting (no rain or winds exceeding 10 miles per hour). In the event of inclement weather, fogging will take place during weekday mornings from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

The Ames Parks and Recreation Department manages 38 parks and offers approximately 180 athletic, aquatic, instructional and wellness programs. Indoor programs are offered year-round at the Community Center and Ames/ISU Ice Arena.

For more information, go to the Parks and Recreation homepage at www.amesparkrec.org or call the Community Center at (515) 239-5350.

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Teresa Kay Albertson covers crime, courts and local government in Ames and central Iowa for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register. Reach her at talbertson@registermedia.com or 515-419-6098.

This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Ames takes actions against West Nile Virus in some parks