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More mosquito borne diseases are a concern

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POSTED August 6, 2014 1:16 a.m.

Typical San Joaquin Valley mosquitoes thrive in the hot, dry climate that is typical during the summer.

But the humid weather of the past several days has created the perfect biosphere for a pair of pests that has experts on edge after being discovered over the course of the past year in southern parts of the state.

The Yellow Fever Mosquito and the Asian Tiger Mosquito – neither of which have been detected yet in San Joaquin County – are both known to thrive in humid conditions, and both carry potentially deadly diseases like yellow fever, dengue fever and chikungunya.

Last June vector control experts discovered the Yellow Fever Mosquito in Madera and Fresno, though no samples have been detected in 2014.

The Asian Tiger Mosquito has become prevalent in unsuspecting places like New York City, and it has been deemed responsible for spreading chikungunya – an infection that can be deadly – in the Florida panhandle last week. It is also currently being sprayed for in the San Gabriel Valley.

Both breeds carry the same diseases, and both are known as indoor, day-biting mosquitoes that can catch unsuspecting residents off-guard – bites are typically thought to only occur at the early morning or twilight hours and when outdoors.

And as if that weren’t enough, West Nile Virus is still very much alive in San Joaquin County.

In June the San Joaquin County Public Health Services announced that it had detected the first West Nile Virus case of 2014 in a standard blood donation sample. The donor was described as a middle-aged person, and the detection came a full month earlier than the first human case of 2013 – which was detected through similar means in a 65-year-old Stockton man.

“As we cautioned the public in March, this confirms that there is a real risk of transmission of West Nile Virus to people in our County,” Public Health Officer Dr. Alvaro Garza said in news release.

In order to combat active adult mosquito populations that are known to carry diseases, Garza recommends the following:

• DEET – Applying insect repellant with ingredients like DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 can help keep mosquitoes from biting and prevent any transmission from infected hosts.

• Dress – Wearing long-sleeves and long pants when mosquitoes are most active helps reduce the risk.

• Dawn and dusk – Active populations are most active just before the sun comes up and right before it sets, so it’s recommended to stay indoors during that period.

• Drain – Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, so it’s recommended to remove any from a front, back, or side yard. Something as small as a soda bottle cap can serve as a breeding ground, and unsuspecting household items like flower pots or old tires can be exactly what they’re looking for. It is recommended that people with ornamental ponds or larger bodies of standing water use mosquito fish.

Information on where to obtain them from the district can be obtained atwww.sjmosquito.org or by calling 209.982.4675. Anybody that discovers a dead bird is urged to contact the California Department of Public Health’s West Nile Virus hotline at 1.877.WNV.BIRD (968.2473). 

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