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Expanding local West Nile virus activity spurs reminder to avoid mosquitoes
July 2, 2012
Solano County officials confirmed today that there is evidence of increasing local West Nile virus activity throughout the county and urged residents to avoid exposure to mosquitoes.
Solano County Mosquito Abatement District officials confirmed that mosquitoes within the city limits of Dixon have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). In addition, four WNV-positive birds have been identified from locations throughout Solano County. Dead birds are screened routinely to test for mosquito-borne diseases.
"This is the first confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquitoes in Solano County this year. Together with the multiple WNV-positive birds from throughout the County, it indicates that the risk of West Nile virus for people is increasing. With July 4th activities just ahead of us and summer outdoor activities under way, it is important for all of us to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites," said Bela T. Matyas, MD, MPH, Solano Public Health Officer.
WNV is transmitted to humans and animals from mosquitoes who feed on the blood of infected birds.
“It is also important for owners of horses, donkeys and mules to have their animals vaccinated,” said Jim Allan, Solano County Agricultural Commissioner.
Horses, donkeys and mules need to be vaccinated against WNV at least annually and owners of these animals are advised to consult with their veterinarian for advice on frequency of vaccinations for their specific area.
Solano County Mosquito Abatement District (SCMAD) regularly traps and tests mosquitoes for various diseases, as one of many steps they take to control the mosquito population.
“We are vigilantly working to control the mosquito population in our county. However, unmaintained swimming pools due to home foreclosures have become a problem statewide and can potentially produce the types of mosquitoes that spread WNV. If you have seen a green pool, please report it to us at (707) 437-1116,” said Jon Blegen, Solano County Mosquito Abatement District Manager.
Symptoms of West Nile fever in humans include headache, fatigue, fever, skin rash on the trunk of the body, swollen lymph glands and eye pain.
“It's important to remember that four out of five people who contract WNV will have no symptoms. Approximately one in every five people infected with WNV will develop West Nile fever and notice mild, flu-like symptoms. Less than one percent of those infected will develop severe neurological disease,” explained Michael Stacey, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Health Officer for the County.
WNV is rarely life threatening, but the most severe forms of the disease may affect the central nervous system causing meningitis and encephalitis.
“The best strategy to avoid contracting WNV is to prevent mosquito bites. I strongly urge the public to practice the five D’s of prevention,” Dr. Stacey added.
- Dawn and dusk—wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts if you are going to be out at these times.
- DEET—use insect repellent that contains DEET according to packaging directions (the non-DEET alternatives oil of lemon eucalyptus and picaridin are also approved by the EPA).
- Doors and windows—make sure screens are tight fitting and doors close completely.
- Drain standing water around your house and use mosquito fish in ornamental ponds and horse troughs [call SCMAD at (707) 437-1116 for free mosquito fish].
- Dead birds and squirrels—report dead birds and tree squirrels online at www.westnile.ca.gov or by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (1-877-968-2473).
If a person is not contacted within 24 hours after reporting a dead bird or squirrel using the state web site or phone number, then the dead bird or squirrel can be properly disposed by using gloved hands or shovel to place the dead animal into a plastic bag and then putting the sealed plastic bag into the garbage container,” said Terry Schmidtbauer, Solano County Environmental Health Manager.
“As we enter the summer months, we remind Solano County residents to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes and to use DEET,” Blegen said.
In 2012 so far, 223 dead birds, 222 pools (groups) of mosquitoes, and two sentinel chickens have tested positive for WNV in California. Statewide, one human case of WNV illness has been reported this year. Last year, 158 human cases of WNV illness were reported throughout California and no human cases were reported for Solano County.
Additional information about WNV can be found on the Internet at www.westnile.ca.gov and at www.cdc.gov.