Researchers at Northern State University are working with state officials to learn more about the West Nile virus.
The virus has historically been prevalent in Brown County. At the end of the day, researchers want to know why.
Students and professors examine and count trapped mosquitoes in the NSU research project. When they find a type that can carry West Nile, they send it to the state.
"Public safety is at the forefront of what we really want to do,” Jon Mitchell, NSU assistant professor of biology said. “It's our end game."
NSU is working with the South Dakota Department of Health.
Mitchell says mosquito numbers will be combined with other data, including environmental conditions, to observe trends and learn more about West Nile. The more experts know about the virus's activity, Mitchell says, the safer they can keep you.
"We're hoping that the data we collect that we see will enable us to make some predictions later in the future," Mitchell said.
Researchers also hope to see immediate improved public safety. They’re collecting mosquitoes from eight traps around Brown County. If they find large numbers of mosquitoes carrying West Nile in one location, they can warn people. The traps are set up in remote places where crews aren't spraying.
"I hope we just get the knowledge out there. If we do have any positives and that will help people take precautions so they don't get sick," Bethany Crosswait, NSU sophomore biology student said.
Students will collect mosquitoes for a couple more months. This is the project's second year. Researches will compare trends year to year as well as they look for more information.