Livingston Parish officials called in backup for help with mosquitoes

Livingston Parish officials call in backup for help with mosquitoes

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Workers at Livingston Parish's Mosquito Abatement have sprayed on the ground, but the program recently got help from a company in Arkansas after some mosquito pools tested positive for West Nile.

After November 1, 2014, the abatement will pair down until it no longer exists. Voters in the parish turned down a property tax that would have kept the service going.

State officials say that raises concerns in a parish that has had its share of West Nile cases.

The director of the program, Jeanine Tessmer, says she's already lost two employees, who've moved on to find other more permanent jobs. Besides the director, that now leaves three full-time employees: one office worker, a biologist, and a maintenance worker.

The trucks that spray for mosquitoes are driven by part-time employees.

Earlier this month, Tessmer called Vector Disease Control, an Arkansas based company which also does mosquito abatement. They use planes to spray from the air as well. For three days, the company flew over sections of Livingston Parish.

"It was in response to the fact that we had had positive mosquito pools from a trap in various locations. And second because we had cases in the parish," said Tessmer.

Livingston has logged four cases of sickness this year; two West Nile fever cases and two neuroinvasive disease cases.

"It's always a concern," said Kyle Moppert, a state medical entomologist. "Especially in a parish that has had so many cases over the years."

While Moppert says it is not unusual for a parish not to have some sort of mosquito control, most parishes along the I-10/I-12 corridor do have mosquito districts.

"All of our positive mosquito pools had been from the west side of the parish," Tessmer said. "From Watson, down through Denham Springs south into Walker and south of Walker."

Tessmer says it cost around $230,000 for the three days the planes were in the air. She says they have an additional $400,000 in their funds.

Should they find another positive mosquito pool, she says she may have the company come back.

As for what will happen with mosquitoes in the parish next year, that remains unknown. But the abatement program will be gone.

"We're concerned as to what would happen without them," said Moppert.

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