West Nile virus (WNv) is transmitted by mosquitoes, and by the end of 2004 it had spread to much of the country. Most people who are infected will not experience any symptoms or may experience flu-like symptoms (West Nile fever) and then recover. In rare cases, the virus may cause West Nile encephalitis with severe symptoms requiring hospitalization. While WNV can affect anyone, risk increases with age. People over 50 are at higher risk to develop serious symptoms.
Tangipahoa Mosquito Abatement performs on-going surveillance for the virus by sending samples to be tested at the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. In addition to LSU testing, our laboratory conducts supplemental routine West Nile virus testing using loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP). This procedure enables us to test mosquitoes within a day to a few days after collection, instead of waiting for up to 7-10 days for results from the vet lab. The process takes approximately two hours from preparing the samples to when the results are available.
We continually work to respond quickly and are prepared in the event of an outbreak. There is still much to learn about WNV, and we work in cooperation with agencies and research facilities across North America to find out the best ways to monitor activity. There is a vaccine available for horses, and we recommend that horse owners consult with their veterinarian. People can reduce their risk of infection simply by reducing their exposure to mosquito bites.
For more information about West Nile virus, click here.