May 022004
Authors: Adrienne Hoenig

West Nile virus does not stand a chance at CSU, according to

environmental officials.

Environmental specialists at CSU have been testing for West Nile

and locating potentially problematic areas on campus continuously,

said Jim Graham, associate director for Environmental Health


“We were doing this before West Nile even showed up here,”

Graham said. “We have to start doing more.”

Graham and his team of environmentalists have been scouting out

places on campus where conditions may encourage mosquitoes to stick

around. Drains, ditches, dips in the lawn and pretty much anywhere

water can pool is a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“We’ll go out three to four days after it rains and check all

the areas,” Graham said. “If they’re still wet, there are lots of

locations where there could be problems.”

But Graham and his team are beating these mosquitoes to the


With a collection of briquettes and pellets containing a hormone

that prevent mosquitoes from developing into disease-carrying

adults, CSU environmental officials are preparing every day for the

possibility of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus.

Any places that could pose a potential hazard are treated with

this hormone before any mosquitoes are even found there. Scattering

pellets or briquettes when the area is dry makes it impossible for

mosquito larvae to fully develop even when there is water


“We pre-treat so when the water fills up we don’t have to worry

about it,” said Scott Wilczewski, a senior environmental health

student who works with Environmental Health Services.

Graham said they are careful to treat with hormones rather than

any sort of chemical to protect the surrounding environment.

“We avoid at all costs any type of chemical. That’s one thing we

didn’t want to do is use a bunch of chemicals,” Graham said. “This

hormone shouldn’t have any effect on anything else.”

Wilczewski also sets traps a couple times a week to catch

mosquitoes and test them for West Nile virus. Traps are set in

potentially wet areas as well as in shady areas near brush.

“Most of the time they travel by the brush area,” Wilczewksi

said. “They really don’t fly that much out in the open.”

Mosquitoes usually try to stay in cool patches and away from

windy areas when they fly.

“They like to stay out of the wind,” Graham said. “They travel

along with the trees.”

Environmental Health Services is also testing any mosquitoes

that were hibernating over the winter. Culex mosquitoes, the type

that is generally found to host West Nile, often spend winters

hibernating as adult females.

“All mosquitoes have some strategy for spending the winter,”

said Chet Moore, senior research scientist with the Department of

Environmental and Radiological Health Services. “We’re just testing

that material now.”

Officials have also been dipping into still water to determine

if there are any mosquito larvae already there.

“It’s important to go in and do your dips because then you can

start picking them up,” Graham said.

Environmental Health Services is also keeping a close eye on

horses and birds near campus to make sure West Nile does not become

a problem at CSU.

“You start seeing West Nile in birds, then horses. Then you

start measuring in mosquitoes, and then we start seeing it in

humans,” Graham said. “If we start seeing it in mosquitoes we know

it’s going to be too late.”

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