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West Nile - Be Prepared!

8/4/2005

During the summer months there will be a great deal of outdoor events taking place at the time when mosquitoes are most active. The Orange County Vector Control District urges everyone to take a few simple precautions to protect themselves and their families from WNV.

 

The public should wear a mosquito repellent containing Deet®, and if at all possible wear long pants and long sleeves when outdoors at dusk and early evening. Reducing mosquito bites is the best way to reduce the chances of contracting WNV.

 

- When at home, there are other opportunities to reduce the likelihood of a mosquito bite. The public should make sure that window screens are installed and in good repair, eliminate any standing water around your home or workplace, and report any other possible mosquito breeding sites to the District.

 

- Did you know? One out-of-service swimming pool or abandoned fish pond can produce enough mosquitoes to threaten an entire neighborhood.

 

Although there has only been one human case reported, Orange County now leads the nation in West Nile virus activity. Orange County Vector Control District (the District) has reported that results of tests conducted on hundreds of dead birds submitted by the public have revealed that over 100 of those birds were infected with West Nile virus (WNV).

 

The State of California has also confirmed that at least 11 batches (pools) of mosquitoes collected by the District have tested positive for this serious mosquito borne disease as well. These numbers put Orange County at the top of the list as the county with the greatest amount of detected WNV activity anywhere in the country. There have been no human cases of WNV in California during 2005; Kansas has reported the only human case in the country.

 

There are several reasons that Orange County has such high numbers.

 

- The County has many natural coastal and inland wetlands, and the near record rainfall last winter has left above normal water levels in these wetlands. Even though last winter was wet, it was quite mild, even by Orange County standards. The District biologists found positive mosquitoes in December and January. There was no period of inactivity, so the virus really had a running start this spring.

 

- Dr. James P. Webb, the District’s Director of Technical and Scientific Services offers another contributing factor. “Our surveillance effort is tremendous, we have devoted significant resources to detection this season; the results bear that out,” stated Webb. The District has partnered with the animal control agencies throughout the county to collect dead birds for testing at the District. There have been almost 600 birds collected this year, of which 360 were suitable for testing, representing almost 20% of the State-wide total.

 

Mosquito surveillance consists of 100 mosquito traps that are checked weekly. So far the District has submitted 1,953 batches of mosquitoes for testing; 34% of the total for the entire state.