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St. Louis City Starts West Nile Fight

By Tom Weber, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The city of St. Louis will start fighting West Nile Virus today (Monday). Crews will be throwing balls of larvacide into the River Des Peres.

That product essentially starves the mosquitoes to death before they become biting adults.

But Mark Ritter, with the City Health Department, says treating the river will not solve the mosquito problem in St. Louis.

"Most people that get really bad mosquito problems, they end up growing them in their own yard because these mosquitoes only travel about a quarter of a mile in their lifetime," Ritter said.

Ritter says the city is fighting West Nile Virus more efficiently. Two years ago, the entire city was sprayed for mosquitoes eight times. Last year, crews targeted certain areas and had about the same success.

Ritter adds the River Des Peres is a perfect place to start each year's fight against mosquitoes.

"Mosquitoes like shallow water and it doesn't have many fish in it, naturally, because it's so shallow. So there's not that many natural predators for them, so it's a great place - if you're a mosquito - to raise your young." Ritter says the city will also use satellites to help map out where any West Nile cases are found in birds or humans. He says that will let crews better target where to spray for mosquitoes. The city sewer system will also be treated.