OMAHA (KPTM)- Officials with the Douglas County Health Department say mosquitoes near Lake Zorinsky in west Omaha tested positive for the West Nile Virus around July 11.
This year, those officials say the mosquitoes carrying the virus may be more dangerous because of long terms of high heat the area has been experiencing.
Reid Steinkraus with the Douglas County Health Department says the heat can increase their presence and power. "The quicker they reproduce, they can go from the larva stage quicker when it's hot," said Steinkraus.
Steinkraus says the heat also makes the virus amplify more quickly inside the mosquito's body and makes it easier for them to transfer it to mammals. He expects the number of mosquitoes carrying the virus to increase in August and into September.
Steinkraus says Lake Zorinsky has not been treated, even though the virus is present. He says this is the first year there has been a threat at a body of water the size of the lake. He says one factor may be the fact that the lake was drained recently, lowering the water levels to a more ideal level for the pests to lay eggs.
"There was a period of time there where water was shallow. There was vegetation on the side that may have created a new habitat for [mosquitoes]," explained Steinkraus.
The DCHD does weekly testing on several bodies of water around the county. Heron Haven, the back waters at Standing Bear Lake, 11th and Grace and Spring Lake Park have been treated with a larvicide to prevent mosquitoes. Steinkraus says Lake Zorinsky is not being treated because of its size.
On the other hand, Steinkraus says the drier weather means there is less standing water that attracts the "nuisance" mosquitoes, or the mosquitoes that simply bite, but don't tend to carry diseases.
Beverly Cogar exercises around the lake 5 days a week. She says the threat of the mosquitoes carrying the virus will not keep her away. "They're usually out at dusk and I'm usually here in the heat of the day so I'm not worried about them being here."
Officials say there's no need to worry, but just be careful. Avoid wearing bright colors if you think you'll be out during dusk or dawn when they are most prevalent. They also advise using a bug spray with the ingredient "Deet" to repel the pests.
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