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NILES Study finds low risk of West Nile at sites



Published: Tue, June 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Health officials did recommend mosquito control at the Fairhaven and middle school sites, however.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

NILES -- There are more than three times the number of mosquitoes at the site for a new middle school than at Fairhaven School property, a study reports, but more of a species known to carry the deadly West Nile Virus inhabits the Fairhaven site.

The study concludes, however, that "the risk of infection with any mosquito-borne virus at the survey locations appears to be low."

Officials from the Ohio Department of Health's vector-borne disease program collected mosquitoes May 31 through June 1 at Brynhyfryd Park and Fairhaven School property for a survey.

The results were released Monday.

No cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Ohio.

Findings: Both sites are adjacent to a flood plain and will be subjected to an influx of human-biting mosquitoes during wet periods, the survey concludes.

It compared the number of the pests captured at each site to determine if the bugs present a potential health risk or are merely a nuisance.

"As a general rule, a count of 25 or more female mosquitoes per trap-night is justification for mosquito control," Dr. Richard Berry of ODH wrote. "The average numbers captured per trap were 81 at the Fairhaven School and 282 for the proposed middle school site."

None of the bugs trapped at the site where the middle school is to be built is considered a principal disease-transmitter.

The school is expected to open in fall 2002.

The survey also found that more of a species of mosquito that has been known to transmit West Nile in wild bird populations were found at Fairhaven than at the new school site by a ratio of 14 to 1.

Recommendations: The report does suggest mosquito control at both sites.

It recommends maintenance of areas where mosquitoes breed, such as disposal sites for old tires, and that the city spray.

It also suggests a citywide survey for mosquito breeding habits and that mosquitoes be trapped and sent to ODH for continued monitoring.

Concerns: The city's health department requested the survey, which was done at no cost to the city, after Audrey and George John, who volunteer at the Niles Historical Society's Ward-Thomas House near the middle school site, voiced fears of West Nile Virus and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.

"Whether it's West Nile Virus or a pest mosquito, it certainly is a problem," Audrey John said at a health board meeting Monday.

Michael Burke, director of environmental health, said the health board will review the report and make recommendations.




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