WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The weather may just be warming up in the Piedmont, but vector control experts in Forsyth County have been treating for mosquitos since February.
Because of statewide budget cuts, few counties maintain full-fledged mosquito control programs. Forsyth County’s Department of Public Health has continued investing in its program because knowing about local mosquitos is extremely important for public health.
Ryan Harrison runs the Vector Control program in Forsyth County and said mosquito larvae can live through the cold weather and even for many years.
“We get out and get down on these floodplains with these backpack blowers and we’re able to distribute our larvacides,” Harrison explained.
They don’t just treat for mosquitos; they also trap them.
“We separate these mosquitos out by species, and we send them to the state lab.”
Samples are tested for viruses like West Nile.
Right now experts are worried about one particular virus that has not yet hit the United States but is getting closer.
“This virus is called Chikungunya virus. It’s transmitted by our most common species [of mosquito] here in the Piedmont. Since December, it’s just moving at lightning speed through the Caribbean islands.”
Chikungunya virus causes high fever along with severe muscle and joint pain, and there’s no vaccine,” Harrison said. “It’s not usually fatal, but other mosquito-transmitted diseases certainly can be.
“Sometimes it’s just a matter of wearing some good mosquito repellent. Can save your life,” Harrison pointed out.