People often forget that mosquito-borne diseases have significant impacts not only on humans, but wildlife as well, regularly contributing to mortality in protected species." ~Joseph M. Conlon
Mount Laurel, NJ (PRWEB) January 14, 2014
There was cause for concern when the death count of bald eagles rose to forty in the state of Utah earlier this winter. Members of the science community discovered that the potentially deadly West Nile Virus (WNV) was present in the carcasses of the eagles and their commonly hunted prey, the Eared Grebes. “Mosquitoes are not actively biting in the Salt Lake area in December, so the discovery of West Nile Virus at this time of year was a surprise – and a bit disconcerting,” says Joseph Conlon, Technical Advisor of the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA), a professional society of over 1,500 mosquito control and public health experts headquartered in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.
According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, testing indicates the eagles died from WNV they most likely contracted from the grebes. It is possible these eagles acquired the virus by feeding upon carcasses of grebes that died earlier from WNV, evidently retaining the infective viral particles – perhaps preserved due to submersion in the intensely saline brine of the Great Salt Lake. It defies all that is known about the transmission dynamics of WNV.
The finding of this potentially lethal virus in bald eagles well outside of known transmission cycles underscores the need for mosquito control in preventing harm to endangered species and other wildlife caused by the myriad of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. According to Conlon, “People often forget that mosquito-borne diseases have significant impacts not only on humans, but wildlife as well, regularly contributing to mortality in protected species.” Thus, mosquito control efforts conducted with the cooperation of wildlife officials can help prevent devastating losses in endangered species.
To combat these threats and minimize mosquito contact, mosquito control entities in the United States, comprising almost 2,000 local and state agencies, continue to mobilize their resources and perfect their prevention and control techniques - the safest, most comprehensive and effective of their kind in the world. These include public education, habitat modification, use of natural predators, and, when necessary, application of mosquito larvicides and adulticides specifically evaluated and registered by the EPA for mosquito control.
However, continued public support is crucial for the success of each of these efforts. Cuts in mosquito control budgets and increased federal and state regulatory requirements are making it increasingly difficult for control programs to protect the citizenry and wildlife. “As we have seen, humans and wildlife will all pay the price for complacency, for we have the means to control these diseases,” continued Conlon. “The question is whether we have the political will.”
For more information on mosquito control, mosquito-born diseases or to find mosquito control solutions in your area, please visit the American Mosquito Control Association at http://www.mosquito.org.