Mosquito breeding grounds targeted - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

Mosquito breeding grounds targeted

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Posted: Wednesday, June 16, 2004 10:41 am | Updated: 6:11 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

June 16, 2004

Scottsdale will try to shield itself against the expected spread of West Nile virus in Arizona by eradicating potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes that could carry the disease.

Stagnant water that can attract mosquitoes is to be drained regularly from floodcontrol basins and other lowlying spots in parks and other public areas, said city environmental programs coordinator Larry Person.

But the big challenge will come in about a month, with the monsoon season. Water from storms can pool so quickly and in so many places — and mosquitoes can breed so rapidly — that there is little chance the virus can be held off, Person said.

"We are not going to stop it. We just hope we can minimize its impact," he said.

An intensive draining effort is already under way at the city’s 160-acre WestWorld of Scottsdale events center. The property is also one of the north East Valley’s major flood-control facilities.

Growth in northeast Scottsdale is significantly increasing the amount of runoff into the WestWorld basin, said operations manager Brent Bailey.

Pools of water up to 14 feet deep and ranging over several acres can accumulate at West-World after monsoon storms, Bailey said.

He is carrying out a plan devised with the aid of Maricopa County environmental and health officials to speed drainage.

Ground is being plowed in WestWorld’s lowest-lying retention areas to enable water to dissipate more quickly into the soil. Any surface water remaining for a few days will be treated with a biochemical larvacide that’s safe except for its deadly effect on insects, Bailey said.

The chemical treatments are already being applied periodically. So far, no mosquito breeding has been found at WestWorld, he said.

Horses housed at West-World barns are being closely monitored. They are among the animals most susceptible to the virus, said Bailey, a member of the Arizona State Horse Association board of directors. The group is preparing members to take precautions as West Nile virus spreads east to west across the country.

There have been at least 14 cases of humans being infected and 15 cases of horse infections in the Valley since May, said Justin Finestone, spokesman for the county’s environmental services department.

The county saw its first West Nile case last year.

"This is our second year of having it, and typically the second year is the more intense (outbreak)," he said.

Symptoms resemble those of the flu. The disease can lead to encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, or meningitis, which affects the brain and spinal cord, but most people recover before such serious effects.

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