District’s New Lab Gets Thumbs Up

A first in California.

ROSEVILLE, Calif. — In a recent inspection, the Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District’s brand new laboratory was commissioned to perform as a Biosafety Level 3 (BSL 3) facility. This designation is a first in the state for any independent mosquito and vector control district. Along with this new designation, the District will be capable of conducting on-site testing for several mosquito-borne and tick-borne infectious agents.

“Our new BSL 3 facility will allow us to enhance our existing surveillance program by providing quicker turnaround time for test results, as well as extending our program to test for other diseases in the future,” states Dr. Mary Sorensen, District Entomologist and Laboratory Director. The current system for mosquito testing was yielding test results in about a week, since samples had to be sent out to the state-certified laboratory. Shortening this time frame by doing on-site testing will allow the District to make treatment decisions sooner, increasing the likelihood of eliminating West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes.

“The old system was certainly satisfactory, but with our new facility, we can do so much more,” states Joel Buettner, District General Manager. In addition to testing mosquito samples, the new facility will be conducting dead bird testing as well, effectively eliminating a lot of the shipping and processing time.

What about extended capabilities? Buettner states that currently, there is no system in place for individual districts that collect ticks to be able to send them to the state for testing. Typically, the state Department of Public Health will do its own independent tick collection and testing throughout areas in California and make the results available to districts and local health departments. The Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District has identified the need to be able to collect its own data on tick-borne diseases, since Lyme disease is a significant concern in the county. The new lab will be able to do this within a year.

Both Buettner and Sorensen emphasize that having this facility up and running will have an immediate impact on current surveillance efforts and just as importantly, it will allow the District to address new and emerging vectorborne diseases in the future.

Although West Nile virus activity has not yet been identified in Placer County this season, Placer residents can implement the following measures to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne illness:

The 3 D’s of Protection

  • DRAIN any standing water that may produce mosquitoes.
  • DEFEND yourself and your home against mosquitoes by using an effective insect repellent, such as DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, dressing appropriately by wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors, and keeping door and window screens in good working condition.
  • Contact the DISTRICT for help. Call (888) 768-2343, or visit their website at www.placermosquito.org.

For a PHOTO OPPORTUNITY, contact Ada Barros at (916) 383-0009 or adab@placermosquito.org.