By Terri Harber
Baker Valley Vector Control has been testing mosquitoes for weeks to determine whether they are carrying the West Nile virus.
So far, so good - no West Nile in Baker, said Matt Hutchinson, manager of the vector control district.
Testing in Malheur County, however, has detected West Nile virus in one bird and 32 mosquito pools, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
Most of the state appears free of the virus at this point, but first evidence of the disease in Malheur County mosquitoes came before the official start of summer. Health officials said this is the earliest discovery of the virus in the state ever.
Hutchinson advises Baker County residents to be diligent about removing sources of stagnant water, and limiting their exposure to mosquitoes.
Ways to avoid exposure include staying inside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active, wearing long-sleeved shirts, and using insect repellent, he said.
Also report sightings of dead birds so the carcasses can be tested for possible exposure to West Nile.
The district covers about 200,000 acres and includes much of Baker, Bowen and Keating valleys, including Baker City.
Hutchinson pointed out that people having major mosquito problems can call the district for assistance in warding of the blood suckers insects, such as hand spraying and removal of large pools of water.
The district's phone number is 541-523-1151.