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Free low-tech approach to combat mosquitoes

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POSTED June 26, 2012 1:49 a.m.

For the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District, it’s been an ongoing process in getting the word out on keeping people and animals safe from West Nile virus.

So says manager John Stroh, who, on Monday, indicted prevention as the best bet.

“(West Nile) virus can be spread by the bite of an infected mosquito,” said Stroh, who noted that the winged insect can become a carrier just by feeding on infected birds and, with a bite, can spread the virus to humans and animals such as horses.

People over age 50 are high-risk of severe illness and, in some cases, death; although chances are also good that anyone can become ill from the virus.

Thus far, no person or animal in San Joaquin County has been infected with West Nile virus, according to Stroh. “We had a woman in Kern County hospitalized last week for West Nile virus – she’s doing much better,” he said.

Reducing the risk includes avoiding mosquito bites. This can be accomplished by cleaning out any stagnant water where mosquitoes might lay their eggs – Stroh mentioned ornamental ponds, non-operating swimming pools, and animal troughs, as examples – spraying on an insect repellent, avoiding being outside during dusk and dawn (mosquitoes carrying the virus are most active at those times), and wearing long sleeves, socks and long pants when outdoors.

Meanwhile, the SJC Mosquito and Vector Control will offer free mosquitofish to each residents, no question asked, this week in an effort to biocontrol the population of this blood-sucking insect.

Stroh recommends placing mosquitofishes – a maximum of 15 will be provided to resident as long as supplies last – inside ornamental ponds, troughs, and non-use pools to prevent the development of mosquito eggs.

Mosquitofishes can be picked up on:

• Wednesday, June 27, Ripon, City Hall parking lot, 259 N. Wilma St., from 9 to 11 a.m.; Escalon, Hogan Park parking lot at 1051 Escalon Ave., from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

• Thursday, June 28, Manteca, Senior Center parking lot, 259 N. Cherry Lane, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.; Lathrop, Manuel Valverde Park at 15557 Fifth St., from 1 to 2 p.m.

As for the mosquitofish, the female can grow to nearly three inches while the male can get up to 1.6 inches in length.

More information can be obtained by calling 209-982-4675, 800-300-4675, or logging on to www.sjmosquito.org.

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