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HUNGRY CRITTER: Mosquito activity is expected to diminish as colder weather arrives. (Observer file photo).
HUNGRY CRITTER: Mosquito activity is expected to diminish as colder weather arrives. (Observer file photo).

Mosquito samples from locations in Union County including ODFW's Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area have tested positive for West Nile Virus, Union County Vector Control and ODFW announced.

The areas tested are part of Vector Control's routine monitoring of 18 locations in Union County. Five of 18 samples tested positive for WNV, including three positive samples taken from Ladd Marsh and two taken from areas around the city of Union. The first WNV case in Union County was detected in horses in late August.

Wildlife and Vector Control officials will continue to monitor Ladd Marsh and other Union County locations for WNV, though mosquito activity is expected to diminish as colder weather arrives in the coming weeks.

About West Nile Virus

First detected in Oregon in 2004, WNV has since been found in 18 counties.

Current estimates indicate that only about 20 percent of people who become infected with WNV will develop noticeable symptoms such as headache and fever.

Only one in 150 of those who experience symptoms will develop severe symptoms such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

As of Sept. 25, there have been 63 documented human cases in Oregon.

Hunters, anglers and others are urged to follow safety precautions and limit contact with mosquitoes when spending time outdoors.

Your best bet? Wearing mosquito repellent, long-sleeve shirts and long pants.

Hunters are also reminded to follow recommended hygiene measures when dressing game, including:

• Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling and cleaning game animals.

• Do not eat, drink, smoke or touch your face when handling animals.

• Keep raw game meat and its juices away from other foods.

• Thoroughly clean knives and any other equipment or surfaces used to dress or process harvested game animals. A solution of one-third cup of bleach in one gallon of water is an effective disinfectant. Commercial household cleaners with bleach can also be used.

• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling game animals (or with alcohol-based hand products if clean water

is not available).

• Cook all game meat thoroughly (up to at least 165 degrees F) to kill disease organisms and parasites. Use a food thermometer to ensure the inside of the animal has reached at least 165 degrees F.

About Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, a 5,900-acre area five miles south of La Grande, is the largest hardstem bulrush marsh area remaining in Northeast Oregon, with more than 3,000 acres of wetlands. Historically, wetlands covered thousands of acres in the Grande Ronde Valley. But much of this habitat has been drained for agriculture and urban expansion.

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area restores some of the region's historical wetlands and provides important habitat for migratory birds, waterfowl and other wildlife.

Mosquitoes are an important part of the web of life in wetland habitats, composing a significant food source and forage biomass for animals such as birds and bats.

Last year, state wildlife officials met with Union County Vector Control officials to develop a treatment program on Ladd Marsh that was implemented in 2006. The program focuses on treating certain areas while still protecting species of conservation concern on Ladd Marsh, including the Columbia spotted frog, Chinook salmon and steelhead. Vector Control officials will continue to monitor WNV cases in Union County and work with ODFW staff to revise the Ladd Marsh treatment plan as necessary.


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