Clark County will trap and document mosquitoes for the first time in more than a decade in the wake of diseases like the Zika virus spread by certain types of the insects.
“Because of the advent of Zika virus, that reminded us that there are other diseases that we do need to monitor, like West Nile,” said Larry Shaffer, director of environmental health services at the Clark County Combined Health District.
The Ohio Department of Health also supplied new kinds of traps for counties to use to specifically trap Asian tiger mosquitoes — the species that lives in Ohio and can be a transmitter of Zika.
Prevention of Zika and others illnesses like West Nile Virus are important for health leaders in Clark County and across the state, Shaffer said.
The Zika traps use a “human” scent to lure the insects into the trap, where they are contained until sanitarians pick up the traps.
The county then collects, bottles and freezes the mosquitoes before they ship them off to the ODH headquarters in Columbus for species and disease testing, health district Sanitarian Jim Lynch said.
More than 60 varieties of mosquitoes live in Ohio, Lynch said.
No reports of Zika or West Nile Virus have been found in Clark County this year, Shaffer said, but health leaders want to be proactive.
More than 1,300 travel-related cases of the Zika virus have been reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ohio has reported a total of 25 cases.
Lynch and his team started setting out traps last week and will continue in every township across Clark County throughout the summer.
“To get an idea of mosquitoes we have here and where they are,” he said.
Mosquitoes live and breed in stagnant water. Anywhere from a pond to a trench along a road to a bird bath in someone’s yard can be a breeding ground, Shaffer said.
The health district is taking suggestions from residents on places they should plant traps, Lynch said.
Jessica Egan, of Springfield, said it’s important for the health district to let people know what kinds of insects and risks are living in their own backyards.
“So we would know if any of the viruses are heading our way so we could protect our kids and our families,” the mother of two said.
Just like wearing sunscreen to protect from UV rays, Shaffer said people should take steps to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
“We always recommend mosquito repellent, light-colored clothing, long sleeves, staying indoors, and keeping doors and windows shut during times of high mosquito activity,” he said.