Reducing West Nile risk as mosquito populations ‘pop’

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Officials in Kalamazoo County are closely monitoring for West Nile after tests discovered the virus in a bird just over a week ago.

The virus was also found in mosquitoes in two other Michigan counties.

The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department confirmed state testing discovered the West Nile virus in a Canada Goose on June 20.

West Nile can cause fever, muscle weakness, neurological illness or even death.

Chuck Barnes, owner and operator of Mosquito Shield in Kalamazoo, says viruses like these mean you should take fighting the pests seriously.

“You want to keep DEET on. If possible, (wear) long sleeve t-shirts,” Barnes said. “Another thing is, you want to wear light-colored clothing because mosquitoes are drawn to dark-colored clothing.”

According to Barnes, the first thing you should do is focus on removing stagnate water from your property.

“It takes no more water than what is in a bottle cap to hatch a raft of 300 to 500 mosquitoes,” he explained.

Preventing mosquito havens in your yard can greatly reduce their numbers.

“Another thing you can do is cleaning your gutters out. A gutter full of leaves is a great breeding spot,” Barnes said. “Bird baths, kid pools — those should be dumped really twice a week.”

Mosquito Shield sprays yards and creates a barrier with the goal of killing the pests before they get to you. The service returns on a regular basis to keep the product working effectively. Crews are treating more often because of the recent heavy rain.

“All this rain has made the mosquito population pop,” Barnes said.

The Kalamazoo County Environmental Health Division has mosquito traps in five locations across the county to monitor for West Nile and other viruses.

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