Mosquitoes collected in samples from Escalon have been confirmed with the West Nile Virus, officials said, joining the list of San Joaquin County communities that have had positive tests for the virus already this year.
San Joaquin Mosquito and Vector Control District spokesman Aaron Devencenzi said while it is a concern that the virus has been found, it’s not unusual, given conditions that were prime for breeding this summer.
“We are just in the peak of the season,” Devencenzi said, adding that the District sets traps throughout the county on a regular basis to collect mosquito samples.
In a recent case, mosquitoes trapped in Escalon and Farmington tested positive for the disease.
“We had some high trap counts in those areas as well as positive mosquitoes,” he said of traps placed along Escalon-Bellota Road, in a stretch covering an area between Escalon and close to Farmington. “It was probably in the area for a long time, and finally had a high enough concentration to record.”
Just because the mosquito sample was positive, Devencenzi said people shouldn’t panic, but just continue to follow the guidelines for protecting against West Nile.
“They need to be aware when they are outdoors, dusk and dawn,” he said of wearing long sleeves and long pants during those times when mosquitoes are most active. “They should also use effective repellants, I like DEET at 20 to 25 percent, we also recommend Picaridin.”
The District has also continued to do ground spraying in areas throughout the city and Farmington, as well as stretching west to Manteca and east toward the San Joaquin-Stanislaus County line.
“We’re not seeing as many dead birds this year,” Devencenzi added, noting that is another harbinger of a busy WNV season, as birds contract the disease from the mosquitoes. “I don’t know if people aren’t reporting them or if there aren’t as many. We are seeing the positive mosquitoes, more than dead birds.”
Residents are advised to remove standing water from their property, which is a prime location for the mosquitoes to breed, and they can also contact the District about obtaining mosquitofish, which also aid in keeping down the population.
“If you leave your windows open, make sure you have secure screens,” Devencenzi advised.
He said the “risk is high all over California right now” and the situation is “very fluid,” with multiple locations seeing an increase in mosquitoes and, consequently, the disease. Neighboring Stanislaus County recently reported its first human case of the season.
“It was in mid-July for both Farmington and Escalon,” Devencenzi said of getting the samples, “and we determined in the lab that there were positives, so people should take precautions.”
The traps set by the District are placed strategically to get a good representation of the county, Devencenzi explained, but they are also able to come out to a specific area if a person feels they have a high concentration.
“Year to date countywide we have had 100 samples test positive,” he said of mosquito samples with the virus. “In 2014 for the whole year we had 239. This year, we have had seven dead birds, year to date, last year we had 53.”
San Joaquin County also had nine human cases of West Nile Virus reported last year, with one death. No human cases have been reported to date this year.
“Typically we see the virus through October and sometimes into November,” added Devencenzi. “So we are in the middle of the time when we will see a significant amount of mosquitoes, as well as lot of positive mosquitoes.”