ANC continues mosquito study seeking West Nile

Nov 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: 23-2: Climate Commitment, Tribal College News
By Rebecca Bishop

SORTING SKEETERS. ANC student Lisa Cooke sorts mosquitoes as part of the tribal college’s involvement in the West Nile Virus Surveillance Program. Photo by Rebecca Bishop

This past summer, Aaniiih Nakoda College (ANC, Harlem, MT), formerly called Fort Belknap College, worked with the Montana IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) to continue its West Nile Virus Surveillance Program.

Led by Dr. Liz McClain, ANC Allied Health instructor and entomologist, ANC interns trapped and sorted mosquitoes collected from four sites spanning the linear oasis of the Milk River for about 100 miles. (A fifth site has been established at the southern end of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.)

Traps were set out weekly and samples were sent to Dr. Hokit at Carroll College (Helena, MT) for sorting and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Greg Johnson at Montana State University (Bozeman, MT) trained interns and the Blaine County Mosquito Control gave instruction in larval control methods. The interns also completed a literature search of the West Nile virus and stored the results in a database. They are currently busy with the labor-intensive task of sorting thousands of mosquitoes to separate the Culex tarsalis from the sample.

The first Culex tarsalis mosquitoes appeared in the traps on June 27, 2011 at a college sampling site, which has been used for nine years. It is where the first mosquito that tested positive for the West Nile virus was found in the state of Montana. It continues to be a West Nile vector for Montana.

Interns are helping to provide data used by the state of Montana, Centers for Disease Control, and National Institutes of Health to predict outbreaks. “ANC is playing a unique role in protecting the health of the community,” according to McClain.

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