LA CROSSE, (WXOW) - An invasive mosquito species could mean a new west Nile virus threat for the la Crosse area.
The La Crosse County Health Department is hoping to prevent a potential outbreak linked to the rock pool mosquito.
The bug is capable of carrying both La Crosse virus and West Nile.
"It's a container breeder," said Dave Geske, La Crosse County Vector Control Manager. "In nature it breeds in tree holes and other containers, but man-made containers like tires and boats and buckets provide a wonderful habitat for it."
Health department officials urge area residents to make sure those containers don't collect water.
"It's really important for people to look around their own yards, their own neighborhoods, and if they have problems with a boat sitting out full of water or tires, either address it, or contact the health department so we can," Geske said.
Geske says the health department is also monitoring storm sewers where mosquito habitats might develop.
"What we have to do now, I think, and into the future is take a look at some of these other habitats--ones that we haven't paid a great deal of attention to in the past, like storm sewers," he said.
West Nile virus spreads when mosquitoes carrying the disease bite birds. The infected birds amplify the virus, making it potent in humans. When the bugs feed on the birds, the disease can then be transferred to humans.
The disease is limited to only a few species of mosquitoes who feed on both birds and humans.
Health experts say 80-precent of people who get infected with the West Nile virus will have no symptoms, and their bodies will get ride of it.
Up to 20-percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches, nausea and sometimes swollen lymph glands. A rash may appear on the chest, stomach or back.
Doctors say people typically develop symptoms between 3 to 14 days after they are bitten by an infected mosquito.
Outbreaks of West Nile typically occur in August and September.
Geske offered some advice to prevent the spread of the virus.
"Thinking about habitat in your home area, using repellents, making sure that your screens are in good repair so that the mosquitos aren't getting in at night or during the day is important too," he said.
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