JEFFERSON CO., Mo. — For the fifth time this summer, mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus were found in Jefferson County.
The nasty little bugs can make you and your family sick.
The mosquitoes were found in Kimmswick, Arnold, Imperial, Cedar Hill and most recently in Crystal City.
5 On Your Side headed out with the team that's working to get rid of the pests and is asking for the public’s help.
“We're looking for standing water and vegetation that will help the mosquitoes develop and they can eat,” said Trey Hull of the Jefferson County Health Department as he stood over a small creek in Cedar Hill Wednesday.
“This stream here is a perfect example,” he said.
Hull scooped up some water and showed our cameras a small insect wiggling in the water.
“That little guy right there, that's the larvae. That's what we're looking for.”
Larvae are the beginning of the problem. But Hull and his team at the Jefferson County Health Department trap grown mosquitoes, too. And they're especially looking for the ladies.
“The female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite,” Hull said. “They use that blood not for nutrition, like most people think. But they use that blood to make the eggs.”
Each female mosquito can lay up to 300 eggs at a time.
“With West Nile, if she has laid eggs, there's a high chance those mosquitoes are carrying West Nile.”
That's where the science comes in. Once the mosquitoes are collected, the team brings the samples back to a lab in Hillsboro. The females are separated and tested for West Nile Virus.
The health department has crews who spray for the bugs. But they can't be everywhere at once. That's where everyday people like you and me can help in our own yards.
Mosquitoes can use as little as one ounce of water to lay their eggs. And that water can hide in places you may never think of.
Gutters and planters are spots that might not be top of mind. And how about that barbeque grill whose vent you forgot to close?
Cleaning them out can help keep the virus-carrying bugs out of your back yard.
Hull said five positive tests for West Nile Virus aren't unusual. But he expects there will be more positive tests this year. If you live in Jefferson County and have a mosquito problem, call the health department. Hull said crews will come spray your area for free.
“We're here to make sure everybody has a healthy and happy life.”