The California Department of Health, CDPH, is reporting increased West Nile virus activity across the state and is currently investigating numerous suspect cases in humans. Two cases were, in fact, confirmed in Yolo County north of Sacramento this week.
The Central Valley is not immune, also seeing multiple positive WNV samples of mosquitoes around the Stanislaus-San Joaquin county areas.
“Californians should take every possible precaution to avoid mosquito bites,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “Simple steps, like applying repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants in the early morning and evening, and draining standing water near your home can help to prevent bites from infected mosquitoes.”
To date in 2016, West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes and birds in 30 California counties. Approximately 600 dead birds and 896 mosquitoes sampled in California this year have been found to harbor the virus.
In recent weeks, the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District’s surveillance and disease testing laboratory has seen some of the highest concentration of West Nile virus in mosquito samples since the discovery of the virus in 2004.
“It is imperative that individuals take precautions against mosquito bites to avoid the virus,” said John Fritz, Assistant Manager with the District.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals – less than one percent – can develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. People 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications. Recent data also indicates that people with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness.
“The District will continue to respond with an increase in all components of mosquito control including the reduction of WNV infected adult mosquitoes,” Fritz added.
To that end, the District will continue to implement the California Mosquito-Borne Virus Surveillance and Response Plan to protect public health and welfare, which includes ground and aerial spraying. Spray locations and times will normally be available 24 hours in advance. Residents can access spray information and spray schedules by calling the District at 209-982-4675 during business hours, 7 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or by visiting the District’s website at www.sjmosquito.org and signing up for notifications.
Meanwhile, the CDPH recommends that individuals prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus by practicing the “Three D’s” – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus; take extra precautions, including wearing proper clothing and repellent at Dawn and Dusk, the most active times for mosquitoes; and Drain or eliminate all sources of standing water around your home and property including buckets, old car tires, rain gutters, bird baths and pet bowls.
California’s West Nile virus website includes the latest information on West Nile virus activities in the state. Residents are encouraged to report all dead birds on the website or by calling toll-free, 1-877-WNV-BIRD.