We are happy, but not surprised, that East Baton Rouge Parish voters handily approved a proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot to renew a 10-year, 1.23-mill property tax to help fund mosquito and rodent control in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Voters have consistently approved taxes to fund mosquito and rodent control in the parish since a public agency, East Baton Rouge Parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control, was created in 1979.

In addition to the 1.23-mill tax renewed on Nov. 6, voters approved an additional 1-mill tax in 2006 for the pest control agency to handle extra costs associated with combating West Nile virus. The virus, which can be transmitted from mosquitoes to humans, was first reported in the parish in 2002. The virus can cause serious illness and, in some cases, death.

This year has been the most active year in Louisiana for West Nile cases since 2002. So far in Louisiana this year, there have been 344 cases and 13 deaths from the virus.

Even though autumn has arrived and the number of reported West Nile cases is beginning to decline, public health officials are advising continued vigilance among residents.

The best way to control the West Nile virus is to control mosquito populations. Residents can do their part by eliminating standing water from buckets, flower pots and other receptacles. Using insect repellant and wearing long sleeves and long pants while outdoors are also important ways to prevent bites from mosquitoes that might be carrying the West Nile virus. These are important precautions even though cool weather is here.

By approving the tax renewal on the Nov. 6 ballot, voters have given local government some much-needed resources for fighting mosquitoes. As the continued presence of the West Nile virus in Louisiana illustrates, fighting mosquitoes is more important today than it ever was.