Summers bring warm nights, vacations and fairs. Summers also mean the return of insects.
During a Board of Public Works meeting, Street Superintendent Jason Moore said his department sprays for mosquitoes in Beatrice once three of their four mosquito traps catch 50 or more mosquitoes.
“Our numbers are going down every time,” Moore said. “The places we set these traps are places that- it’s in the park next to the river, it’s in Hannibal next to the drainage, it’s places where if we’re going to find mosquitoes, you’re going to get them in the traps.”
The department sprayed near popular outdoor events, such as the Fourth of July and the Gage County Fair. They have also sprayed for for Wymore, Pickrell, Plymouth and the ballfields at Tri-County Public Schools.
During the City Council meeting Monday night, councilmember Ted Fairbanks asked if the city profited from spraying the other towns.
"The surrounding communities do a lot for Beatrice, and when we have an opportunity to do something for them, I want to make sure we're not profiting from it," Fairbanks said.
BPW General Manager Tobias Tempelmeyer said they do charge for spraying, but that it covers the cost of the service and that if the city makes any money, it's not much.
Moore said the Street Department will spray around Labor Day weekend, and again near the end of September.
“October is normally your time frame where you’re going to find late mosquitoes, which are your most likely to carry West Nile,” Moore said.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the West Nile Virus occurs through the bite of an infected mosquito. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms, and about 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported that 242 individuals were infected with WNV and 11 died in 2018.
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So far in 2019, five individuals were infected and one person has died from WNV in Nebraska.
The CDC says risk of WNV can be reduced by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants to prevent mosquito bites.
Moore also talked about the Eastern equine encephalitis virus, also known as sleeping sickness.
Also caused through a mosquito bite, the CDC says the EEE virus is a rare cause of brain infections, like encephalitis. An average of seven human cases of EEE are reported each year, with approximately 30 percent of people dying, and many survivors having ongoing neurologic problems.
Moore mentioned the case of EEE in a 60-year-old man from Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Public Health Officials say this is the first human case of EEE in the state since 2013, and the risk level in nine communities has been raised to critical as a result.
“Anybody with horses knows that this is something that’s been around,” Moore said. “But it is something now that’s being spread to humans, and you’re hearing about it a little bit more.”
Other upcoming Street Department projects include a mill and overlay, replacement of a street sweeper and concrete reconstruction on sections of Ella and Bell streets. Those projects are estimated to cost $635,000, $285,000 and $546,000, respectively.
Other BPW projects scheduled for the next two years include $350,000 to replace water mains, $450,000 to replace the Electric Department's vacuum truck and a $3.5 million dewatering project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
BPW currently has a debt of $1.6 million, which Tempelmeyer says is minor considering the size of the departments. The debts are accruing between 1.6-2.8 percent interest, and is expected to be paid off by 2024.
Despite all the upcoming plans, there are no projected rate increases for electric, water and sewer services for the next two years.