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Idaho, You Bug Me

County may use aerial spraying for West Nile


Feeling feverish? Got a little ache in the bones? Welcome to the West Nile Virus club, where you'll join dozens of Idahoans who are feeling down because of what looks like the country's largest outbreak of the mosquito-borne illness.

Gov. Jim Risch has already declared county-wide disasters in Ada and Canyon counties, and if things don't improve we might expect some more.

As of Tuesday, Ada County had 21 people down with West Nile, but 22 horses showed signs of the virus. So far, 38 mosquito test pools the county maintains have shown positive signs of West Nile.

The emergency declarations mean the counties get to use state cash to help knock down mosquitoes--read: spray possible areas with insecticide--and Risch authorized the Canyon County declaration Monday morning.

Ada County Commissioner Fred Tillman said in a prepared statement last week that the situation was bad, and getting worse. "We have reached epidemic proportions for West Nile in Ada County," Tillman said.

Yet to come is a final decision as to whether or not Ada will engage in aerial spraying to knock back mosquito populations. The county commissioners have begun to investigate that option, however: they have instructed the Ada County Mosquito Abatement District to research the costs and processes associated with an air war against the insects.

In all, about 188 people in Idaho have tested positive for West Nile Virus so far, according to the Idaho State Department of Health and Welfare.