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West Nile scare makes pest control more important

Although the city of Ironton sprays for mosquitoes every year, the threat of the West Nile virus may make it even more important this summer.

Ohio Pest Control, in cooperation with the Ironton City Health Department, sprayed in Ironton Monday and will be spraying throughout Lawrence and Scioto counties during the coming weeks.

There is an unusually large amount of mosquitoes this year because of excessive rain in the spring and excessive heat this summer, said Charles Kouns, health administrator at the Ironton City Health Department.

"Mosquitoes can become adults within 72 hours in optimum conditions like we have had," he said.

All of Ironton was sprayed for

mosquitoes except for Third Street and downtown because these areas are least likely to harbor them. Mosquitoes are most common from May 15 until Sept. 15, Kouns said.

Anything that holds water, including ponds, weeds, alleys, drain ditches, bird baths, puddles and old tires, is a potential breeding ground .

"We are trying to keep the population down," Kouns said. "If we kill one

mosquito with encephalitis or West Nile, it is worth the money."

Rick Fraley, owner of Ohio Pest Control, said things have been hectic but not that much different than any other summer. He agreed that people need to get rid of their old tires because up to 10,000 mosquitoes can breed in a single tire.

Ninety-four pools of mosquitoes in 15 Ohio counties have tested positive for West Nile virus.

A pool consists of one to 50 mosquitoes, said Robert Restifo, medical entomologist for the Ohio Department of Health.

West Nile is a viral disease that appeared in the United States in 1999.

The disease is spread by infected mosquitoes and causes encephalitis, an infection of the brain and spinal cord.

According to information provided by the Ohio Department of Health, people over the age of 50 are most at risk. There is no specific treatment, but most people will not know they have been exposed and will fully recover. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune