PARKERSBURG - Mosquitoes breeding in a drainage pond at Parkersburg High School are causing a problem in the neighborhood, a resident said.
The retention system was installed about two years ago with the multimillion-dollar renovation of the high school to catch storm runoff and to prevent it from going into the new gymnasium and adjacent properties.
But water sitting in the pond has become a breeding area for mosquitoes, said Bill McClure, who lives about 30 feet from the pond.
Bill McClure stands at the fence surrounding the retention pond at Parkersburg High School where he says stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Representatives from the Wood County Schools and the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department are investigating. The city of Parkersburg sprayed for mosquitoes on Friday. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
"We've never had the problem like this before,'' he said. "The mosquitoes before never even bothered me."
Recent concern about mosquito infestations in Wood County goes back to 2002 when the first human cases of the West Nile virus in West Virginia were diagnosed in Putnam and Wood counties. The virus can cause encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, and can be fatal.
Spread by birds bitten by mosquitoes, spraying and treatment programs were started, and the health department began a public education program encouraging residents to eliminate sources of standing water.
"If we can get rid of the water, that's the best solution," said Sherif Ibrahim, regional epidemiologist with the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department.
Ibrahim said he was unaware of a mosquito problem around the high school.
The mosquito problem started last year, but they have been particularly pesky this year, McClure said.
"We've never had this much of a problem," said Terri Locy, who also lives near the school.
She first believed it was a neighbor's swimming pool, but the pool was up last year, too, and there wasn't a problem, she said.
The retention pond appears the likely culprit, said Locy. She can't go outside without being attacked by numerous mosquitoes.
"I'll go into the back yard for a little bit and maybe end up with 10 of them on one leg at once," Locy said.
The city sprays and treats drains in trouble areas around town, Public Works Director Jerry Edman said. Spraying is done in the early morning when the air is heavy with moisture that settles as the morning goes on, he said.
"That is one of the hot spots up there," Edman said of the Parkersburg High area.
The area around the high school was sprayed on July 20 and July 24, Edman said. Pesticide packets were also placed in storm drains in the vicinity and in the pond where it is damp, he said.
Lawrence Hasbargen, assistant superintendent of Wood County Schools, looked into the problem on Monday and had made arrangements for the pond to be treated before learning the city did it.
Water is not stagnating in the pond, but the ground can remain damp enough for mosquitoes to breed, Edman said. It's similar to the lower areas at City Park and around the pond that are damp, areas that also are treated, he said.
Other hot spots include around Lincoln Street, 14th Avenue and Clyde Street, the floodwall and Point Park, the parking lots on First and Second streets, various streets along Myrtle Street, Sumner Street, Packard Street, Seventh Avenue and Broadway and an alley between Oak and Elm and 23rd and 25 streets, Edman said.
Residents can report problems and they will be investigated, Edman said.