As a responsible land owner and to protect public health and safety, WSDOT remains committed to help reduce the threat of West Nile virus. WSDOT’s West Nile virus action plan emphasizes education, preparation, and response. This strategy helps protect ourselves, our families, and our communities.
WSDOT makes the most of limited resources by focusing on field staff training and awareness. When possible, WSDOT designs its road sides to reduce mosquito breeding areas and encourage natural mosquito larvae predators. Although large ponds and wetlands are common places for many mosquito species to breed, these are not popular places for the mosquitoes most likely to spread the virus to humans.
WSDOT employees are trained to test, or dip, possible roadside breeding areas such as ponds and ditches for mosquito larvae. WSDOT has implemented Department of Ecology's "Best Management Practices for Mosquito Control" as our integrated pest management plan, using uses natural bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) and Bacillus sphaericus to control mosquito larvae if found. The products we use are applied in the form of pellets or briquettes and are natural larvicides that do not harm fish or animals.
WSDOT has also recently increased the amount of maintenance we carry out on many of our storm drainage features. This increased maintenance will help minimize stagnant water in drainage systems that may attract mosquitoes. Staff are trained to notice and collect certain species of dead birds for potential West Nile virus testing. Birds that test positive for West Nile virus are a good indicator that the virus is active in an area.
As of October 30, 2012, 48 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The 4,891 cases of West Nile virus disease in people resulted in a reported 223 deaths.
The 4,891 cases reported nationally in 2012 is the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported since 2003. More than 70 percent of the cases come from 10 states (Texas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, South Dakota, Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Colorado) and more than one-third of cases have been reported from Texas. Four cases of West Nile virus disease in people have been reported in Washington.
The Department of Health works with local health partners to reduce potential exposure to West Nile virus. Monitoring — including mosquito surveillance and dead bird testing — resumes each spring. Health agencies advise other state and local agencies on West Nile virus planning, surveillance, control and prevention.
Other questions about West Nile virus?
Call the Washington State Department of Health West Nile virus information line 1-866-78-VIRUS (1-866-788-4787). Information is also available on the DOH West Nile virus and CDC websites.
For more information regarding WSDOT’s preparation for West Nile virus, contact Norm Payton at (360) 705-7848 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.