First sign of West Nile virus reported in state
So far, July has brought less than a half of inch of rain to the area and no one is complaining.
After 9.27 inches of rain in June and a record 19.78 inches of precipitation between April 1 and June 30, the Chippewa River had overflowed its banks in some places along its course through Swift County. Low lying areas of farm fields had turned into lakes and numerous basements were flooded.
But now the fields are drying out, leaving large bare dirt spots where crops should be growing. The Chippewa River has fallen below 11 feet at the U.S. Highway 12 bridge, down 3.5 feet from its near record height of 14.61 feet June 20.
The one “crop” that is thriving is the mosquito population. The abundance of breeding places for the pests was unlimited in June and still plentiful. The City of Benson is spraying for mosquitoes, but having a hard time keeping up with the booming population.
This last week, the mosquito-borne West Nile virus was found in Minnesota for the first time this year. Mosquitoes collected in Scott County just south of Minneapolis tested positive for the virus.
The Minnesota Department of Health has no confirmed cases of residents getting sick with the illness this summer, and dead birds tested by the district also have turned up negative.
The first signs of West Nile virus last year were found at this time, in a mosquito sample collected in Carver County.