Lane County lacks department dedicated to testing mosquitoes for illness

Lane County lacks department dedicated to testing mosquitoes for illness
Posted on 06/13/2016



EUGENE, Ore. - It's been about 30 years since Lane County eliminated its Vector Control, which means Lane County hasn't had a department dedicated to testing mosquitoes for illness for 30 years.


There are only a few hot months in Oregon when mosquitoes thrive. But during those months, Lane County doesn't check to see what the mosquitoes could be carrying and transmitting.


When it comes to Zika virus, there have been no cases in Oregon where the virus was transmitted locally. The only cases in the state came from travelers who visited Zika-ridden places.


Oregon mosquitoes don't typically carry the virus. But like other mosquito-borne illnesses, that could change if the virus mutates.


"We don't know if that aedes mosquito that we have here is a competent vector for the virus. It's never been tested; it's possible," said Dr. Patrick Luedtke, chief medical officer for Lane County.


Lane County used to test its mosquitoes regularly, but that was nearly 30 years ago.


Now, the county relies on other counties who do use Vector Control. Jackson County, which borders California, does have mosquitoes that could carry the Zika virus.


"If you're going to stay put in Oregon, your chances of getting Zika from an Oregonian mosquito are almost zero. It's not zero, but it's almost zero," Luedtke said.


Officials hope southern Oregon Vector Control departments would detect the virus in mosquitoes before it became a major threat to humans.


Meanwhile, there are other illnesses, like West Nile, that concern scientists.


Experts say the best protection is to be generous with bug spray outside. They recommend applying it before lotion.


They also suggest keeping old tires away from houses because they are hot beds for bugs.


And finally, avoid still water containers in your backyard. They can attract mosquitoes.


Mosquitoes thrive in hot, moist areas. Thankfully, Oregon's cool climate keeps them away for most of the year.

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