Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus in Minn.

Published: Jun. 18, 2017 at 11:09 PM CDT
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Two mosquitoes have tested positive for the West Nile virus in Minnesota, the earliest the virus has been detected in the state since 2006.

Collected on June 6, Metropolitan Mosquito Control District Communications Coordinator Mike McLean said the infected mosquitoes came from the metro area.

In 2014, the first mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile virus were reported in early July.

"So the risk to the public isn't all that great, just because you find one early. But we are pretty intensely looking at the mosquitoes that are out right now to see... when the onset is going to happen. So it's something that happens every year and... it's kind of a wakeup call," McLean said.

According to McLean, the mosquitoes may not have been infected this year, saying, "Sometimes the Culex species will overwinter as adults and then in the early summer or late spring, you can find a few mosquitoes that may have picked up West Nile virus actually last fall."

Mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on infected birds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 82 reported human cases of West Nile virus in 2017 and five deaths.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include headache, body aches, vomiting and diarrhea. According to the CDC, 70-80 percent of people who become infected with the virus do not develop any symptoms.

There have been no confirmed human cases so far this year in Minnesota but South Dakota had its first one last week. McLean said in Minnesota, human cases aren't usually reported until late July.

"A lot of things have to happen to make for a bad West Nile season," McLean said. "One of them is very hot weather and then actually some dry weather and then a lot of times it has to do with how infected the bird population becomes over time."

McLean recommends people wear mosquito repellant--even late in the summer when the mosquitoes aren't bothering people as much. He also suggests looking for anything in your yard that holds water for more than a week and making sure to keep it empty.

The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District traps and tests mosquitoes for West Nile virus every week.

McLean added, "So we don't know for sure how the year is going to play out. We're always crossing our fingers and hoping it won't be too intense."

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