LSU Vet School tests state's mosquitoes for West Nile

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Grab that mosquito spray because officials say the West Nile virus is on the rise across most of our viewing area, and things are only expected to get worse.

Last week, one third of the mosquitoes sampled in and around East Baton Rouge Parish tested positive for West Nile.

The Louisiana Animal Diagnostics Lab at the LSU Vet School is where hundreds of mosquito samples from across the state go for West Nile virus testing.

"We go through a process of detection by nucleic acid...detection of the RNA of the virus itself. And that's done what we call a high through-put type of test," said Dr. Alma Roy, associate director of the diagnostics lab.

Technicians put the sample bugs into a test tube, add a few drops of a chemical solution, and what looks like a copper BB. Next, a machine shakes the concoction, and if West Nile exists, it'll separate from the solution and what's left of the mosquitoes. The sorting and shaking is a two day process for Dr. Roy and her team.

"This year, so far, has been a significant year in terms of number of positive mosquitoes and sentinel, which typically, you know, relates to possibly more human infections," said Dr. Roy.

East Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes are seeing the higher numbers of West Nile cases in mosquitoes. Of the 33 sample sites in the area, there were only three locations where mosquitoes did not test positive for the virus. Dr. Roy says she hopes the public will take precautions to protect themselves

"If that means wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants, staying inside at dawn and dusk, or using mosquito repellent," said Dr. Roy.

She also remind everyone to periodically clean up any standing water outside your home to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching in the first place.

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