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Aerial pesticide spray for wetlands urged

PROVO — Utah County's mosquito abatement director recommends aerial spraying at least 40,000 acres of wetlands in the south part of the county with pesticides next year.

Nine people in Utah County were diagnosed with the West Nile virus this summer, said director Bob Mower at a Board of Health meeting Monday.

Utah County had one-fourth of the state's 35 West Nile cases. Thirty-five of the state's 57 horses infected with West Nile were also in Utah County, Mower said.

Most of the known infections were concentrated near wetlands south of Utah Lake near the towns Genola and Elberta.

Mosquito abatement workers spray mosquito habitats weekly during the summer using trucks and six-wheelers, but the vehicles could adversely affect some of the marshes. They can be best sprayed from the air, Mower said.

Mower estimated it could cost $2 an acre to spray from the air.

Dr. Joseph Miner, executive director of the health department, said some areas of the county received additional sprays of pesticide because of the wet spring and fears of mosquitos breeding at higher rates. In 2004, only one person from Utah County had West Nile, and doctors suspect the patient was infected in Arizona.

Aerial spraying three applications would double the mosquito abatement department's budget, Miner said.