Oakdale residents are seeking protection and adjusting routines as a result of a rising threat to the community’s health.
The hazard: Swarms of mosquitoes that have been attacking citizens, especially those close to city parks. Over the last several days, social media was full of posts from Oakdale residents with experiences of getting bitten by the pesky insects.
With 55 cases of West Nile Virus diagnosed in California alone, seven of which were in Stanislaus County, and the Zika virus threat across the country, mosquito bites pose a real risk to health and could be potentially lethal.
“I have so much concern for what it’s like right now, the public needs to protect themselves against the threat,” said Oakdale resident Stacy Beason, who was diagnosed with West Nile Virus earlier this month.
Beason, 53, lives about a quarter-mile from the Oakdale Dog Park, a location along Crane Road near Greger where swarms of mosquitoes appear to be thriving. She is one of five confirmed cases by the Stanislaus County Department of Public Health.
Beason, who said she knows of two other diagnosed cases in the city, stated she has been sick since July 10 when symptoms of cramping, nausea, chills, fatigue, joint pain and a fever first appeared.
“I first thought, ‘am I trying to get the flu?’” she said.
She attempted to endure the pain and symptoms and went to a doctor after not being able to get out of bed for a few days. After blood work was done, the West Nile disease was diagnosed.
Now, over a month since the indications commenced, the symptoms still remain.
“This is my new normal,” Beason said.
The Stanislaus County Public Health Department stated that although most people who become infected with West Nile (70 to 80 percent) do not develop any symptoms, Stanislaus County residents should remain vigilant and are encouraged to continue their efforts to prevent mosquito bites and West Nile Virus.
With the county urging that eliminating sources of standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs, many in the city are wondering and complaining about city watering of parks and then those parks becoming breeding grounds. Throughout the last week social media was full of posts from Oakdale residents with experiences of getting bitten by the pesky insects, many when they were at, or close to the Oakdale Dog Park and the T.L. Davis Sports Complex, off Warnerville Road at Ackley Circle.
The Leader’s Teresa Hammond was a victim after a morning jog past the dog park at the same time, later showing up to work with welt-sized bumps from the bug chomping.
The East Side Mosquito Abatement District has been busy locating mosquito breeding sources and treating them as necessary. The district has been fogging the dog park daily, hoping to treat the outbreak. They are also performing additional spraying at the sports park.
According to East Side Mosquito Abatement officials, the dog park is surrounded by mosquito-drawing pastures and the sports facility is flanked by the same. The mosquito outbreak is also caused by the extreme heat from the season since mosquitoes hatch off faster when the water is warm.
“The city is in the process of adjusting its park watering schedule to try to minimize the standing water that occurs during the irrigation process,” Oakdale City Manager Bryan Whitemyer said on Friday, Aug. 19. “Additionally, the city is working with the East Side Mosquito Abatement District to spray areas of concern. Despite these efforts we anticipate that mosquitoes will still be present throughout town when mosquitoes are most active, at dawn and dusk, and especially for the first two hours after sunset.”
Whitemyer added that with the soccer league opening on Saturday, Aug. 20, the city would be providing complimentary mosquito wipes. Whitemyer, in fact, was at the opening day, out on the field coaching a team of youngsters.
“If we have that problem in California, and three are from Oakdale, that says to me we have a bigger problem in our little community,” Beason said of the WNV cases. “There’s so much you can do for protection for a minimal amount of money.”