Efforts made to protect birds from West Nile Virus

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Mosquito abatement crews are working around the clock this summer to get ahead of a potential West Nile Virus threat.

Last year more than 80 eagles died from the disease, but early monitoring efforts are expected to stop an outbreak.

“(The abatement crews) actually go out to these areas on ATV or by foot and they are out inspecting for mosquito larvae,” said Paul Gines, Field Supervisor for Davis County Mosquito Abatement District.

The abatement crews started spraying for larvae earlier than normal in an effort to monitor and control the spread of West Nile Virus.

Last year thousands of water fowl died from eating mosquitos infected by the virus.

Eagles migrating through Utah preyed on those dying birds and also contracted the disease.

This year the experts say the birds look to be in a good shape.

“It could definitely change come summer; the heat has a lot to do with it. The hotter it gets the faster the mosquitos grow, the faster the virus replicates inside the mosquito and causes bigger problems,” said abatement manager Gary Hatch.

The mosquito experts don't think the virus was contracted here in Utah. However, the virus has been detected in Utah every year since 2005, which the expert say is a threat to both birds and humans.

“The big thing is some people raise mosquitos in their own yards, one of the mosquito species that spreads this disease comes from buckets and pails, wheelbarrow, ponds, bird baths that are not clean,” Hatch said.

Mosquitos that tend to carry the virus are out from dawn to dusk.