PITTSBURG — In the wake of major storms this year, state officials have been conducting a statewide mosquito surveillance study, and the results are not looking particularly good for Crawford County.
“With all the flooding we’ve had there’s been an influx of mosquitoes,” County Clerk Don Pyle said at Tuesday’s Crawford County Commission meeting.
The Kansas Biological Survey, in collaboration with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), began conducting mosquito surveillance July 3 in 67 counties that are under either a federal or local disaster declaration following severe weather in recent months. For two weeks, through July 16, state officials set a trap in each county to monitor the mosquito population.
KDHE “has reported unprecedented numbers of Culex species mosquitoes, those that most commonly transmit West Nile virus (WNV) in Kansas, this year,” according to a recent department publication. “The risk of infections to humans, and horses, increases with higher temperatures. In a typical year most human infections with WNV occurred in mid-June through the end of September.”
In the first week of mosquito surveillance, Crawford County did not appear very seriously impacted by increased numbers of Culex mosquitoes compared to many other counties in the state, with 14 Culex and 187 non-Culex mosquitoes detected.
“It appears that our numbers for the mosquitoes are below where use of larvacides are highly recommended,” Pyle wrote in an email last week. “However, it is a good idea for residents to protect themselves with insect sprays that help to deter these pests. There are a number of serious diseases that can be transmitted through contact with mosquitoes.”
The second week of mosquito surveillance, however, has shown a significantly higher number of Culex mosquitoes. 44 Culex mosquitoes were trapped, along with 91 non-Culex, meaning nearly a third of mosquitoes captured in the survey’s second week were Culex mosquitoes.
“The Week Two Map shows Crawford County at a much higher level” of population of this more dangerous variety of mosquitoes, Pyle noted in an email Tuesday. For the week ending July 6, the Southeast Kansas region was rated by KDHE at a “moderate” risk for West Nile virus transmission, but that rating was elevated to “high” risk for the week ending July 13.
KDHE’s recent publication on the mosquito surveillance results notes that the state does not currently have funding available for mosquito control. Counties under federal disaster declaration, however, could potentially request reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for mosquito control efforts after local resources have been exhausted. Crawford County was among the first 18 counties designated for a federal disaster declaration in May following severe weather, including tornadoes, in the area.
Pyle said Wednesday that he has forwarded information about the mosquito surveillance to cities in the county and some of them may begin doing some mosquito spraying, but he doesn’t know of any that have started yet.