McCulloch provides results from city mosquito traps

Sunday, February 10, 2019
Dyersburg Street Superintendent and Water/Sewer Manager Mike McCulloch (center) recently presented Dyersburg’s mosquito program, as well as the Tennessee Department of Health’s results from the city’s traps, during a meeting at the department of health’s Metro Nashville facility in January. Alongside McCulloch is Dr. Abelardo Moncayo (left; TN Dept. of Health – Nashville) and Erika Taylor (right; TN Dept. of Health – Jackson).


City of Dyersburg Street Department Superintendent and Water/Sewer Manager Mike McCulloch recently presented Dyersburg’s mosquito program, as well as the department of health’s results from the city’s traps at a meeting held at the Tennessee Department of Health Metro Nashville facility from Jan. 25-28.

L to R: McCulloch, Tennessee Department of Health representatives Gilandria Williams and Taylor, and City of Dyersburg employee Anthony Adams are pictured last summer setting one of the traps at the Dyer County Fairgrounds. Taylor is holding one of the gravid mosquito traps.

In early summer 2018, the City of Dyersburg received a grant from the Tennessee Department of Health to assist in mosquito surveillance throughout the community. The grant consisted of $2,000 worth of equipment to capture mosquitos, as well as a means necessary to transport them to the department of health’s lab for a study of the breed and if any contain any viruses. McCulloch assisted the city in securing the grant funding.

“I got up and talked for about 20-30 minutes, and gave them a rundown of what we were doing with the traps we got from the grant last year,” said McCulloch. “Over the last mosquito season, we sent in around 125 traps to the Tennessee Department of Health. Dyersburg was one of the largest contributors to send in mosquitos – to be evaluated and see what kind they were.

“At the end of my presentation, I was asked a lot of questions from other cities that were there and just getting started. They wanted to know how we got the funding for it and how we got started.”

McCulloch and his crew set the gravid mosquito traps in various locations within the city of Dyersburg in areas near schools, community centers, and parks, as well as Highway 412, South Main, Phillips Street, Clark Street, Wheeler Street, the Dyer County Fairgrounds among other several locations.

“We placed some in areas that we thought would be more accessible for mosquitos to be. It turned out there wasn’t as many there. In areas where we thought wouldn’t be many, that’s where they ended up being,” he explained. “The place where we caught the most mosquitos was around the green water tower on Gordon Street. We caught quite a few there.”

After capturing the mosquitos, the specimens were frozen and sent to the department of health once a week for testing. The weekly ritual occurred from April through the end of August in 2018. After testing, the department of health would send McCulloch the results, along with the containers and netting received from the grant.

McCulloch mentioned a majority of mosquitos captured in Dyersburg consisted of a breed known as Culex with some consisting of the AEDES breed.

“They’re all just the basic aggravating mosquito. They can carry West Nile,” said McCulloch.

When asked if any of the mosquitos captured in Dyersburg carried the West Nile Virus, McCulloch noted out of the entire specimen sent to the state, 4 tested positive for the virus.

“But just because it has the virus doesn’t mean it can be contracted to a human,” said McCulloch. “That’s pretty normal statewide.”

To combat the mosquitos in the city limits, McCulloch and his crew sprayed mosquito repellant throughout Dyersburg.

“Where we found the most mosquitos, we took the spray truck through there more times,” McCulloch said. “This past year, we got a few complaints about not seeing the mosquito truck. It comes out either early in the morning or around headlight time in the evening. I have GPS on the truck and know where it’s been and what it’s been doing.”

The mosquito spray used by the City of Dyersburg in 2018 was Mosq 1.5 from Clark Mosquito Chemical Company. McCulloch mentioned the price of a 55-gallon drum of the spray cost roughly $3,200. He added the city used 3 drums of the product last year.

“They [department of health] were really pleased with our participation and the mosquitos we sent in,” said McCulloch. “They showed a map, and Dyersburg is the only dot in northwest Tennessee that’s testing for mosquitos in the magnitude that we’re doing. Dr. Abelardo Moncayo [from the department of health] said it speaks very well of our city caring about what diseases get carried through the city.”

McCulloch mentioned he was told by Dr. Moncayo there may be uncertainty if grant funding for mosquito research would be available in the upcoming fiscal year. However, if funding is available, McCulloch said he would take the steps necessary to attempt to receive another round of funding.

“If I could get some more grant money, I would like to get some mosquito traps that we could hang in trees with a light that attracts them. There are a lot of things out there to try. I would like to get some mosquito repellant to maybe leave at the community centers, if we can get more grant money.”

However, if funding isn’t available, McCulloch and his crew are set to continue the mosquito surveillance in 2019 with remaining equipment from last year’s grant.

“We still have 6 traps, and that worked pretty good for us last year. We’ll shake the nets of all of the mosquitos and put them in a container. We get all of the containers back from the state. We reuse everything. We’re still going to continue to send in mosquitos.

“It’s still new to us,” he said. “I’m going up [to the department of health] to learn all I can and pass it on to these guys [his crew]. It’s really interesting to me that there are other states, not just Tennessee, that came in to tell us what they were doing in their state. Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, [and] Alabama sent people there, and they told us all of the problems they have. The information was all getting passed along. Dr. Moncayo was putting a lot of emphasis on studying mosquitos and ticks in the state of Tennessee to try to keep us from having any kind of outbreak or fatalities.”

When asked what he learned over the nearly year-long mosquito surveillance experience, McCulloch stated, “One of the biggest things I’ve learned about mosquitos over the past year is that a plain bottle top full of water can breed a bunch of mosquitos. Anything in your yard that can hold water, you need to throw it away or dump it out. A simple Coke can someone throws out on the side of the road gets a little rainwater in it, mosquitos can breed in that can. If you have a birdbath, they can breed in that.”

Referring to the 3-day meeting, McCulloch mentioned ticks were also discussed.

“We did a lot of discussion on mosquitos and also on ticks. There isn’t really any Lyme disease cases in this area, but there have been in East Tennessee, Virginia and places like that. We have all the ticks that give problems here. It don’t really cost that much to trap ticks. They use a burlap-type cloth with a string tied to it and pull it through the areas where ticks would be. The ticks collect onto that, and you pick them off and send it in to the state. We may try that a few times around areas where kids would play – community centers, parks, ball fields. We may drag around those areas around bushes and trees, and see what we come up with. A piece of burlap doesn’t cost that much, so we can get out and do that.

“I enjoy doing this. I’m proud and my guys are proud to do this for Dyersburg. We’re going to try to keep any disease coming here. If it does, we’re going to know about it and try to nip it in the bud before it gets started good.”

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