Pinellas Mosquito Control is ready for combat - WFLA News Channel 8

Pinellas Mosquito Control is ready for combat

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CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) -

Over the past couple of weeks, mosquitoes have become a problem in Pinellas County.

Tropical storm Andrea left a lot of water in the area and county officials have had to do a lot of spraying.

But there's a lot of science and work involved in killing mosquitoes.

"Just because you don't see a fogging truck coming down your street doesn't mean we're not working," said Glen-Paul Edson, a Senior Environmental Specialist at Pinellas County Mosquito Control.

These experts say there are 36 species of mosquito in Pinellas County.  Only a few actually bite humans. In some cases, the bites will cause flu-like symptoms, or a worst-case scenario- West Nile encephalitis, which causes a swelling of the brain.

Gayle Guidash with the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County said, "Unfortunately it is possible to die from an encephalitis disease."

Guidash said, "A lot of people have different immune responses, so it's been shown that people may have actually contracted West Nile virus and they wouldn't have even known it, where others will actually have disease symptoms."

So on the front lines of this fight the county uses sentinel chickens.

"Every week, what I do is I draw samples of their blood," said Entomology technician Jason Stuck.

By studying the blood samples, mosquito control is able to discover if diseases are spreading.

Then to kill off these pests, the experts fight them by spraying on the ground or by helicopter, responding quickly to problem areas countywide.

Edson said, "We're trying to get everything at the larval level before mosquitoes can be a nuisance and before it can cause disease."

And one common problem lately has been foreclosed homes with swimming pools.  It's a breeding ground for mosquitoes, so the county will unleash small gambusia fish to eat the larvae.

Mosquito control is always taking calls to see the problem areas in the county.

As of now, there have been no reports of mosquito-borne illnesses spreading across Pinellas County.

Mosquito season tends to run from June until November.

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