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