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NILES State to test middle school site



Published: Wed, May 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The survey won't cost the city anything.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

NILES -- The Ohio Department of Health will conduct a mosquito survey at the site of a new middle school to determine if it's home to disease-transmitting pests.

Michael Burke, the city's environmental health director, said the state will be here May 31 to June 1 to survey Brynhyfryd Park and other areas.

The middle school is to be built in Brynhyfryd Park. The school board opened eight bids for site preparation last week and may award a contract Thursday.

There is no charge to the city for the mosquito survey, Burke said.

Suggestion: The city's health department sought the survey after it was suggested by Audrey and George John at an April health board meeting.

The Johns, who volunteer at the Niles Historical Society's Thomas House near the site for the new school, stressed that they were speaking as residents, not as historical society members.

Mrs. John said she is concerned about the diseases mosquitoes may transmit to people. Encephalitis and the potentially deadly West Nile virus are carried by mosquitoes.

Six of the 63 species of mosquitoes known to be in Ohio can transmit the West Nile virus, but no cases have been detected in birds, mosquitoes or people in Ohio as of last week. The virus first occurred in the United States in 1999 in New York City and spread to New England and south to North Carolina last year.

The school site is adjacent to a wetlands area, prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Study: The survey will collect samples from the wetlands and compare them to those from another school property in Niles, according to Jay Carey, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health.

The survey will determine the species and number of mosquitoes at both sites.

"They'll be looking at the mosquito pools, or breeding sites, and where the mosquitoes live," Carey said.

Within a week, the department will report to the city about whether the mosquitoes collected are merely a nuisance or a potential health threat, said Dr. Richard L. Berry of the state health department.

"Because of the West Nile Virus in the U.S. and likely coming into Ohio this year if it's not here already, we're urging all agencies responsible for protecting the public health to conduct mosquito control programs," Dr. Berry said.

Possibilities for mosquito control include spraying, which Niles already does; depositing pesticide to kill mosquito larvae; and reducing breeding sites.




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