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Local West Nile Virus Activity Spurs Reminder to Avoid Mosquitoes
June 11, 2013
County officials confirmed today that there is ongoing evidence of local West Nile virus activity and reiterated their annual appeal for residents to avoid exposure to mosquitoes and for horse owners to vaccinate their horses.
Solano County Mosquito Abatement District and Solano County Public Health officials received confirmation that an American crow within the city limits of Fairfield tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). Dead birds are screened routinely to test for mosquito-borne diseases.
"This is the first confirmed bird WNV case of 2013 in Solano County, and the first confirmed indication of local WNV activity for the year," said Dr. Michael Stacey, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Health Officer for Solano County.
WNV is transmitted to humans and animals from mosquitoes who feed on the blood of infected birds.
“Last year was one of the most active West Nile seasons in the United States and California in years,” said Dr. Stacey.
In 2012, there were 479 reports of WNV human infections in California and 20 associated deaths. This was the highest number of reported cases since 2005, when there were 880 cases reported statewide. In Solano County, there were two cases of WNV human infections reported in 2012.
“West Nile Virus is unpredictable,” said Dr. Stacey. “We need to remain vigilant and ensure that we protect ourselves and our families against mosquito bites.”
The best way to protect yourself against mosquito bites is to limit your outdoor activities during dusk and dawn because mosquitoes are most active at these times. If you do go outside, remember to wear appropriate clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, and use an insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon or eucalyptus.
Other ways that you can protect yourself are to ensure that the screens on your windows and doors do not have holes that the mosquitoes can fly through and that there is no standing water around your house. Make sure to drain your empty flower pots, buckets, barrels and rain gutters because they make great breeding sites for mosquitoes.
According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) website, one case of human WNV infection has been reported this year and it was from Sacramento County. There are no reports of human cases of WNV from Solano County thus far in 2013. Anyone can be infected with WNV, but people who are over 50 years old are at higher risk of developing severe illness. Therefore, adults over 50 years need to take extra precautions to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.
In humans, the symptoms of WNV infection include headache, fatigue, fever, skin rash on the trunk of the body, swollen lymph glands and eye pain. Although very rare, it can lead to encephalitis or meningitis. Typically, symptoms start 3 to 14 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito.
“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. We ask residents to call (707) 437-1116 if they see a green pool. For those with an ornamental pond, we recommend using mosquito fish, which we can provide for free” said Jon Blegen, Solano County Mosquito Abatement District Manager (SCMAD). SCMAD regularly traps and tests groups of mosquitoes for various diseases.
In California, there have been ten dead birds from seven counties that tested positive for West Nile in 2013. There have also been 21 mosquito samples from six counties that tested positive for WNV in 2013.
“It is important that horse owners vaccinate their horses against WNV,” explained Dr. Stacey.
There are currently four licensed WNV vaccines available and horse owners are advised to consult their veterinarians for more details on the timing of vaccination.
“Solano County residents can assist us in our monitoring and control efforts by reporting dead birds and squirrels,” added Dr. Stacey. Residents can report dead birds and squirrels online at www.westnile.ca.gov or by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (1-877-968-2473).