New Tool Makes Testing for West Nile Virus Easier

June 28, 2004 -- Posted at 5:45 p.m. CDT

BUTLER COUNTY -- You don't have to be a native of Region 8 to know when summer weather gets here, the mosquitos get bad. With the threat of West Nile Virus, the bugs can potentially become down right dangerous. One county in Region 8 has developed a new tool to test for the West Nile Virus and it's making a big buzz.

Environmental Public Health Specialist Chris Grider said, "They want to know is if it's here, the numbers...their plotting it and their going to probably keep a surveillance on this for sometime."

But, in order to test for the West Nile virus, someone's got to collect the specimen. A new device dreamed up at the Butler County Health Department is making that easier and quicker.

"You can catch two to three times the numbers in this type of device than you can setting the traps and actually doing the trapping the conventional way," said Shawn Bond, an Environmental Public Health Specialist for the Butler County Health Department.
The vacuum is actually a modified version of the traps that are used to catch and test the mosquitos for diseases, but the difference between the vacuum and tests, the vacuum can suck up thousands of mosquitos in minutes, rather than days.
"The normal trap uses bait, the odor attracts the mosquitos to the bait. There's a fan in here and it draws them up from the catching basin at the base end, and it holds them up into the net, and it does that by the positive pressure it puts on. What we did was put the net on it and made an extension tube to it, and we go to where their at, instead of them coming to us," said Grider.

The mosquitos are frozen, counted and then shipped to a field office for testing. If the West Nile Virus is detected, then they go to the Centers for Disease Control for conformation. Officials in Butler County worry that once West Nile is found in birds, human cases won't be too far behind.

"Once it's been identified in an area, it's pretty well a given that it's going to be there and it just seems to travel on a little bit further," said Grider.

The Butler County Health Department plans to start collecting and sorting mosquitos Monday and will be testing near stagnant water and open sloughs.