Public Health

District scientists find mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus

Collier Mosquito Control District Alerts Residents of West Nile Virus in Local Mosquitoes 

NAPLES, FL (July 23, 2021) –Collier Mosquito Control District (the District) scientists have detected West Nile virus (WNV) in local mosquitoes caught in traps located in Ave Maria, Immokalee, and northern Golden Gate Estates. They discovered the virus July 22 while testing mosquitoes in the District’s laboratory – a process conducted weekly. The mosquito samples were sent to the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories-Tampa for verification, a process that typically takes two weeks.

The District performed an aerial treatment for adult mosquitoes over northern Golden Gate Estates on July 21, and over Immokalee on July 20. A treatment of Ave Maria is planned for the evening of July 23.

“Evidence of West Nile virus in these mosquitoes is an indicator that birds infected with the virus are arriving in our area carrying the disease,” says District Executive Director Patrick Linn. “With the abundance of standing water in rural areas, we are seeing an uptick in mosquito species that breed in fresh water, which are the ones capable of spreading West Nile. Now that we know the virus is in the area, it’s more even more important that residents and business owners empty containers of standing water around their property and that they use repellent for protection.”

Mosquito eggs can hatch in only 5 to 7 days, and with the proliferation of standing water left behind by recent summer rains, even more mosquitoes are expected in coming weeks. The District’s operations and science teams are closely monitoring daily mosquito data to plan treatments, as well as performing in-house testing for WNV and other mosquito-borne health threats. Linn noted that numerous aerial treatments are likely in the coming weeks to control adult mosquitoes and prevent the spread of the virus.

In 2020, the District detected WNV in mosquitoes from traps from September through December in areas including Ave Maria, Naples, and eastern Golden Gate Estates. The Collier Department of Health reported a total of seven human WNV cases and one horse with WNV in 2020.

District officials remind the public to diligently follow the “5 D’s” to minimize their exposure to potentially harmful mosquitoes:

  • Drain anything holding water around your home to discourage mosquito breeding
  • Defend yourself by wearing insect repellent
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants when reasonable
  • Avoid being outdoors during times of peak mosquito activity – dawn and dusk

West Nile Virus can be spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on birds that have the virus. It cannot be spread among people through sneezing, coughing, or touch. Most people do not exhibit symptoms, but if a fever, headache, or rash are experienced, they are urged to see a healthcare provider.