Mosquito season spiking with flooding, West Nile virus detected earlier than normal

Mosquito season spiking with flooding, West Nile virus detected earlier than normal

Mosquito season spiking with flooding, West Nile virus detected earlier than normal

Heavy rains and historic flooding are not helping what was already a spiking mosquito season. 

Officials with the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District says all that added water is leading to more hours in its helicopter treating wetlands. 

“We’re way above where we were at this point last year, we’ve had to fly almost every week with our helicopters and do a lot of ground treatments,” Alex Carlson, public affairs manager with the MMCD, said. 

“Areas right now, where the rivers are overflowing, are creating even new mosquito habitat that we haven’t necessarily had on our radar for in the past. So, it’s definitely going to be an active year and we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon,” he added. 

But despite the current spike in skeeters, Carson says overall this year is not as bad as years past. 

“We’re below the 10-year average,” Carlson said, adding that’s mainly because there are fewer ‘Cattail Mosquitoes.’

“[Cattail Mosquitoes are] just not out this year because of the drought last year and the year before — so we predicted they would be low and that’s really coming true,” he said. 

But mosquitoes are more than just an annoyance.

On top of treating, the MMCD also collects and tests thousands of mosquitoes each week. In what it says is earlier than normal, the MMCD confirmed a batch from June 18 in Anoka County that tested positive for West Nile virus. 

Carlson says this is an early detection of the virus, with most cases popping up later in the summer. 

“Most people who get West Nile are asymptomatic, but people who are older or immunocompromised can get very serious cases and people often do die in Minnesota from West Nile,” Carlson said. 

One man from the northeast metro, Richard Moberg, is well aware of how serious West Nile can be — 20 years ago, after a round of golf, Moberg tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he got the virus and was in and out of consciousness for two-months. 

“I had tubes coming out of here and here and all over the place for many months,” Moberg said, adding about his recovery: “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t lift, I couldn’t lift [an] envelope with my two fingers. I lost all of my strength.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, as of Monday there have been no human cases of West Nile reported to the state. 

The MMCD says there are a few things people can do to protect themselves from mosquito bites:

  • Remove any unnecessary standing water in your yard 
  • Wear long sleeves and pants
  • Wear bug spray

The MMCD added that not all bug sprays are the same, and the different active ingredients — like deet — might not work as well for you as it does for another.