AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Monday was the first day of school for many students but along with thinking about classes, some districts were also thinking about mosquitoes and taking precautions against West Niles Virus.
The Mahoning County District Board of Health found a mosquito with West Nile Virus in a trap on the Austintown Schools property last week.
“It was a major concern to us, actually,” Superintendent Vince Colaluca said.
The mosquitoes were found near ponds on school property. A larvacide was put in the water, which killed the mosquito eggs. But Austintown is still left with a big problem.
“How are we going to stop a mosquito from biting someone that could possibly infect them?” Colaluca said.
So the district fogged all grass areas after learning female mosquitoes can live up to 60 days. The township also fogged campus and nearby neighborhoods.
Even though mosquitoes are only out at dawn or dusk, all sports teams were given bug spray to apply if they were outside.
“There’s very few entities beside the board of education and superintendent that could close school, but the health department is one,” Colaluca said. “In communication with them, there was no inkling that we needed to delay the start of the school year. We were very proactive and we feel our kids are safe.”
Canfield Schools wanted to provide the same protection even though no mosquito was found with West Nile Virus on its property.
“We put our heads together, ‘How do we address this and not create panic?'” Superintendent Alex Geordan said.
The health department gave the same recommendation to fog the facility. So Canfield did that on Friday at each of its complexes while the football team had an away game.
The district didn’t have to worry about standing water.
“As you can tell on our facilities, it’s fairly dry so I don’t anticipate an issue but, again, why take a risk? We wanted to be proactive,” Geordan said.
No human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Mahoning or Columbiana counties, where infected mosquitos were found.
Since mosquitoes are mainly out early in the day and later in the evening, the students can still have recess.
Mosquitoes also become inactive when the temperature drops under 50 degrees so these cool nights are providing another benefit.