DU officials respond: Standing water no hazard, no reason for concern

New Orleans (Nov. 15, 2012) -The potential health hazard of standing water around Dillard University’s campus has sparked some student concern, but officials have offered reassurance that there’s nothing to worry about.     

Since 2011, water has periodically appears and settles on the ground in a high-traffic area on campus near the bookstore and Williams dormitory.

Some students worry the standing water could breed mosquitoes, which spread the West Nile virus. To date this year, five cases have been reported in the state – two of them in Orleans Parish.

Antonio Merrick, a junior mass communication major from New Orleans, complained the water “carries an odor, depending on the outside temperature.” 

Despite the odor, Vaughn Williams, Dillard University’s facilities coordinator, ensures it is a pure water leak and not contaminated. 

The primary causes of odorous water are algae and bacteria.  Some species of algae and bacteria naturally produce odorous chemicals inside their cells.

Still, some said it is little consolation especially since mosquitoes need water to complete their lifecycle and where there is water, there could be a potential threat of infected mosquitoes. 

West Nile virus is an infectious disease that first appeared in the United States in 1999.  Infected mosquitoes spread the virus.  In severe cases the virus causes diarrhea, headache, muscle weakness, vision loss or even death. In some cases, people who are infected have no symptoms at all. 

Worldwide, nearly 4 million people die each year from various mosquito-borne diseases.  All mosquitoes must have water to complete their lifecycle.

Officials have provided no timeline for fixing the problem: “We have to find the source first,” said Ray Johnson, contractor of G&R Plumbing.

In the meantime, students err on the side of caution when passing the area and others find alternate routes.