St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement is stepping up its aerial and ground spraying because of the West Nile Virus.

Chuck Palmisano, Director of Mosquito Abatement, says mosquitoes carrying the virus were found recently in 14 of 78 mosquito test samples in the parish, which tells him the virus is active in various locations in the parish.

"Last night we sprayed about 22,000 acres with our aircraft over the Lacombe area. Tonight we're gonna do a large area in Slidell and also in Mandeville," Palmisano said.

Mosquito Abatement is also treating roadside ditches which are breeding grounds for the southern house mosquito, the primary mosquito that transmits West Nile Virus.

Palmisano says residents can protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing repellant when outdoors, and they should empty outside containers, such as buckets and cans, where mosquitoes can breed.