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It bites: Mosquitoes returning

SJ residents urged to take steps to avoid West Nile Virus

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POSTED April 25, 2014 1:11 a.m.

Don’t let the cold temperatures outside fool you. 

Summer is right around the corner. 

Despite a late spring storm moving across Northern California expected to bring isolated thunderstorms to parts of the valley and up to a foot of snow in parts of the Sierra, summer-like heat is expected by the beginning of next week. 

According to Accuweather, the mercury will be pushing 90-degrees by Tuesday – drying out anything that may come as a result of a fluke storm.

But that also creates the perfect conditions for mosquitoes. 

The California State Legislature has declared April 20-26 as West Nile Virus and Mosquito and Vector Control Awareness week. The unseasonably dry winter and warm spring has kept local forecasters on their toes as they gear up for what will likely be a long – and busy – season combating a pest that can be deadly. 

Statewide, there have been 4,004 reported cases of people infected with the West Nile Virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes since 2004. Of those, 145 people died. Among those deaths was an 83-year-old Stockton woman who died in August 2013 after contracting the virus. She was the first West Nile Virus death in the county since 2007.

“Californians throughout the state need to be aware of the public health threat that exists as a direct result of mosquitoes. We need to continue employing local mosquito and vector control agencies and programs to educate local communities on best practices to prevent diseases borne by mosquitoes and other vectors,” said Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California Bob Achermann in a release. “The threat is real and cannot be underestimated. We must remain diligent in our awareness efforts.”

And the threat of West Nile Virus has already been detected this year in San Joaquin County. 

In late March the San Joaquin Mosquito and Vector Control District detected the virus from a sample taken from a deceased cow in Tracy. It was the earliest that mosquitoes carrying the West Nile signature had been detected in the county since it was first detected in 2004. 

The first human case of 2013 was reported a month earlier in a 63-year-old Stockton man. 

According to California Department of Public Health, the general public can protect themselves by following basic guidelines:

• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors during active mosquito biting times – typically at dawn and at dusk. 

• Making sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens – replacing those that may be torn or frayed. 

• Applying an insect repellant with EPA-registered ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemony eucalyptus (PMD). 

Homeowners are also urged to make sure that they remove all sources of standing water that serve as breeding grounds when temperatures heat up. 

Birds serve as a reservoir for the disease – it is transmitted by mosquitoes that bite an infected bird and then carry it to a human. The CDPH has opened its hotline for reporting dead birds – 1.877.WNV.BIRD (968.2473) and anybody that finds one is urged to call the number so it can be picked up and tested. They can also be reported by visiting www.westnile.ca.gov. 

The San Joaquin Mosquito and Vector Control District sprays for mosquito populations when the season begins. A schedule of those spraying sessions – with maps outlining the areas that will be targeted – as well as other local mosquito and West Nile Virus information can be found at www.sjmosquito.org. 

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