Public health tests base mosquitoes, results negative for West Nile virus

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The 28th Medical Group public health flight recently submitted more than 700 mosquitoes to the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to test for the West Nile virus. The results came back negative.

As of Aug. 21, 40 cases of West Nile virus have been observed in South Dakota, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With the virus’ presence in the state, members of the 28th MDG public health flight collect mosquito samples at Ellsworth AFB on a continuous basis to send out for testing to determine if there’s any mosquito-related danger in the local area.

“They can’t spawn in fast-moving water like in rivers, creeks and streams,” said 1st Lt. Miranda Fadden, the 28th Medical Group officer in charge of public health. “They are most likely going to breed in ponds, lakes or runoff where the water is stagnant.”

The public health flight urges base members to take preventative actions and clear potential breeding sites around their homes. To lower the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses, residents can take actions such as: empty pools when not in use, unclog roof gutters, change bird baths regularly, remove old tires that could hold water, and ensure good condition of or install screens on doors and windows.

Along with standing water, Fadden emphasized that mosquitoes are present in higher-traffic places, such as residential areas and parks. Even though no mosquitoes tested positive for the virus at Ellsworth AFB, the public health flight still urges the base community to wear bug spray to protect themselves.

“We educate people on the importance of using bug spray,” said Tech. Sgt. Tiffany Knight, the 28th MDG public health flight chief. “It’s important that they wear it if they are working [outside] or doing any outdoor activities.”

The West Nile virus may not currently be an issue at Ellsworth AFB, but that could change if preventative measures aren’t taken.

“I can’t say if the area will stay free from West Nile forever, but it’s good to stay aware and protect yourself when you are out and about,” said Staff Sgt. Sarah Cox, the 28th MDG noncommissioned officer in charge of community health.