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Ed Yeates ReportingTake heart! While Labor Day is sort of the last hurrah for summer, it's also the last hurrah for mosquitoes. Our native mosquito, which carries the West Nile virus, will probably stop biting in about another three weeks.
While most were off today, mosquito abatement folks were not. Many were out collecting specimens as always. Culex tarsalis is our nighttime biter, the only one we really have to worry about. But Dr. Sam Dickson says the bug is getting ready to pack it in, in another three weeks or so.
Dr. Sam Dickson, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District: "The mosquitoes that transmit this disease tend to stop biting as much and they start developing what they call fat bodies so that they can go into hibernation, much like a bear or something might go through."
The bad news is Utah might mimic what happened in Colorado. While our first identified West Nile season may go out with a whimper, more virus, including human cases, will surface in seasons two and three.
Mosquitoes are still picking up the virus from the primary carriers, birds like raptors, crows, ravens, jays and magpies. Even the graceful flamingo is now implicated.
But nature as always is playing a wild card, not only for the birds, but for our benefit as well. Many experts believe the bird population now may be developing antibodies against West Nile.
Dr. Sam Dickson, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District: "Once an animal is exposed, it's believed they get an immunity for life. So although there was a lot of bird deaths - those that did survive probably have immunity to the disease. The humans that were bitten but never showed symptoms probably have immunity."
So, while West Nile is here to stay, eventually it may occur only in clusters now and then, not as an epidemic.
Though our mosquito season may be winding down, Dickson warns as long as the weather remains warm where you live, continue wearing appropriate clothing, and use repellants while outside at night.