Heavy rains help and hurt mosquito population

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The overflow of heavy rains the last few days has caused all sorts of the obvious problems, but one of the effects is yet to come. In just ten to fourteen days mosquito larvae will develop into full-sized blood-suckers.

Mosquito control technicians are working overtime in East Baton Rouge making house calls when requested and operating spray trucks throughout the parish. This week's rain both helped and hurt.

"It washed out a lot of ditches, particularly the septic ditches where the house mosquitoes breed and that actually probably helped us with regard to that species. But it is going to create a lot of floodwater species that live in these temporary pools created by a rain event," said Randy Vaeth, Assistant Director of EBR's Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control office.

Homeowners should remove any standing water from their property to help control the population.

Back in the lab, scientists are keeping an eye out for a new viral disease spread by mosquitoes called Chikungunya. It started in Africa and quickly spread.

"It has gotten into the Caribbean in 2013 and this year there are already I think 1300 cases estimated in the Caribbean. They've even found ten cases in Florida, although none of those are locally acquired. They're people and travelers that are coming back from Caribbean Islands," Vaeth said.

Chikungunya is rarely fatal, but it is incurable. The word means "to become contorted," and the symptoms include severe joint pain and fever that could last for weeks. In Louisiana there's no reason to worry yet, but West Nile remains a threat. That disease usually first appears in mid-June.

To fight the bite, experts recommend any repellent containing Deet, but don't ever spray it on your pets. It could be deadly.

"You never want to spray that stuff. They do lick themselves and they can ingest it. That can make them sick as well, never mind a topical or local reaction," said Dr. Andrea Andersen with the Garden District Animal Hospital. Andersen sees heartworm cases year-round in Louisiana because the disease is spread exclusively through mosquitoes.

"We never actually get cold enough to have no mosquitoes, so keeping (pets) on something all year is imperative," Andersen said.

Talk to your vet to find out what's right for your pet. Special bug spray for animals is available, but a monthly regimen is the only guarantee.

If you live in East Baton Rouge Parish and would like a technician to treat your yard, call Mosquito Control at (225) 356-3297 to schedule an appointment. More information is available here.

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