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Mosquitoes infected with West Nile Virus found in Louisville

Matt Vanderpool, a Louisville Department of Health and Wellness entomologist who’s spent the last 22 years battling Louisville’s mosquitoes.
Ryan Van Velzer
/
LPM
Matt Vanderpool, a Louisville Department of Health and Wellness entomologist who’s spent the last 22 years battling Louisville’s mosquitoes.

The Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness has trapped mosquitoes infected with West Nile Virus in surveillance traps in the area around Iroquois.

It’s that time of year when mosquitoes typically start testing positive for West Nile in Louisville.

To date, Louisville Metro’s health department has not confirmed any human cases, but city experts have discovered the disease in mosquitoes found in the 40214 ZIP code and plan to begin fogging there this week.

Most often, people with West Nile show mild symptoms if any, but in less than 1% of cases people can develop serious illnesses. People over the age of 60 are at greatest risk.

“No matter what ZIP code you live in, please take precautions to avoid being bitten,” said Louisville’s Interim Chief Health Strategist Connie Mendel.

Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. Wearing repellant and protective clothes can help avoid bites.

Every year, Louisville’s Department of Health and Wellness collects mosquitoes from around the city, grinds them up and tests their RNA for diseases.

West Nile Virus has been present in the U.S. since about 2002 and was brought here by migratory birds. To date, 47 human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in the U.S. in 2023. None have been found in Kentucky.

As the climate changes, Kentucky is becoming warmer and wetter. The environmental advocacy organization Climate Central reports Louisville has 16 more days suitable for mosquitoes every year than it did in 1979.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.