One more mosquito sample tests positive for virus; vacant yard suspected as host area

Director threatens lawsuit, resignation

One sample of mosquito larvae out of seven that were collected Aug. 6 and tested for West Nile Virus has tested positive for the virus. That sample was believed to be from a vacant house on MiVida Drive.

“We have now had seven confirmed and positive WNV samples detected over a five-week period,” said a statement on the county’s web site, grandcountyutah.net. “For the second week in a row, the positive sample was collected on Carlos Court in the Steenville neighborhood. This flummoxed us at first–that the positive sample was from the same neighborhood two weeks in a row–when none of the wetlands samples tested positive,” said the statement. “The wetlands/Matheson preserve are where we would expect to find WNV-positive adults.”

The samples are tested at the Utah Public Health Lab.

The news came during a tumultuous week when Mosquito Abatement Director Libby Nance threatened to sue The Times-Independent over alleged defamation. She also threatened to resign from her position (see related story).

“Thanks to the diligence and hard work of field crew men–Shanon Amsberry and David Camunez–they found an untreated water source a few blocks away from Carlos Court on Mi Vida Drive. This water source is from an unoccupied house. The source contained both larvae and pupae, which they treated, and we think, but are not positive, that this is the potential source for the WNV-positive adults collected in the Steenville neighborhood,” said the statement.

Mosquito abatement officials trapped samples again Aug. 12 on Carlos Court and MiVida Drive, according to the county web site, and those results are expected to be available next week.

“Moab citizens–if there is an unoccupied home, an abandonded home, a vacation home, etc., next door to you or near you, PLEASE take a moment to investigate if there is standing water on the property,” said the statement. “Call us to report this and we will come take care of it. If you suspect a stagnant water source but are afraid to trespass–again, please call us and we will investigate. Utah law gives us the authority to come on to private property without notice, for just this reason,” the statement continued.

“Typical water sources to look for that grow mosquito larvae will be kiddie pools, ornamental ponds, old swimming pools, wheelbarrows, uncovered boats, landscape planters, broken fountains, five-gallon buckets, etc., typically in the shade, where the water does not evaporate quickly… The water source containers will likely not be smaller in size due to our hot, arid climate and lack of recent rain. However, if unoccupied homes have automatic sprinklers with smaller containers nearby–they could be potential sources.”

The district keeps a list of ornamental ponds, fish ponds and large stagnant water sources that officials treat every year with a residual briquette. “Most citizens who have these types of water sources on their properties know us, and know that we come yearly to treat them,” said a statement on the web site. “However, we do not know all of these sources, and especially, those on unoccupied properties. If water sources contain fish, it is doubtful that these would be a problem as the fish eat the larvae and pupae.

The statement said the district “will likely fog this week, once again, in and near the wetlands. We will likely not be coming through all neighborhoods depicted on the fogging route… fogging occurs around 8:30 p.m. until midnight; be prepared for us to continue to fog throughout this week without further notification,” said the statement.