Toledo Area Sanitary District searching for open labs to test mosquitoes for viruses

TOLEDO (WTVG) - Months ago, there were no COVID-19 testing centers available for people in the Toledo area.

Now the Toledo Area Sanitary District says there are no testing centers open to test mosquitoes for viruses.

While the district regularly sends mosquitoes to be tested through the Ohio Department of Health, but those testing center have been closed since March. And as temperatures begin to rise, the district is still looking for other sites capable of testing.

"The Ohio Department of Health, their lab that did the screenings, they have come out and said that's not happening this year, so that will not be an option for us," district general manager Paul Bauman said. "Normally that's a free testing that's provided you know to everyone in the state for mosquitoes screening, so everyone will be scrambling to figure out, how are we going to test these mosquitoes and know if there's a virus concern."

The district has continued to treat water to stop any adult mosquitoes from emerging and will begin spray operations this week to stop any population hotspots.

They're also reminding people to avoid damp, wooded areas at dusk and dawn.

The district has no indication that mosquitoes can carry COVID-19, but the mosquitoes they have collected have nowhere to be tested for West Nile virus.

"A lot of these labs that have the willingness and the capabilities to begin this testing are at the mercy of the universities as to when they're allowed to come back and start testing and when their labs can fully open," Bauman said. "So we've been working on some other scenarios with some labs, UTMC as well, to try and figure out how can we get these mosquitoes tested."

The district is also looking into testing at Michigan State University. But because college buildings are also still closed, that leaves the district without a timetable for beginning testing.