West Side Mosquito abatement district is warning northern Stanislaus County residents to be aware of the risks of West Nile Virus. There have been five reported cases of West Nile Virus in humans in Stanislaus County this summer, and four of those cases required hospitalization.
There have been no reported human cases of West Nile in the Riverbank or Oakdale areas, but officials are still warning residents that the virus is considered active in those areas.
“There is West Nile Virus in Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties. Everybody has the same chance of catching it. Just because nobody has reported it in Riverbank or Oakdale doesn’t mean people are safer,” said Lloyd Douglass, director of East Side Mosquito Abatement district.
West Nile Virus is a disease passed on to humans mainly through bites from infected mosquitoes. West Nile Virus does not cause symptoms in about 80 percent of those infected, according to the Center for Disease Control. The other 20 percent develop West Nile Fever with symptoms ranging from fever, headache, tiredness, body aches and the occasional skin rash. Less than 1 percent of people infected by West Nile Virus develop neuroinvasive forms of the disease, including encephalitis or meningitis.
The more severe symptoms include disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness and paralysis and can lead to death. Four of the five people diagnosed with West Nile Virus in Stanislaus County this summer were hospitalized with the neuroinvasive form of West Nile Virus.
Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and at dusk, and those are the times that Douglass says people should be the most careful. The late summer-early autumn weather can especially increase risk of exposure to West Nile Virus for people who want to get in one more outdoor barbecue or spend a day at the lake. Wearing long sleeves and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin can help, but Douglass said that might not be realistic in the summer heat.
“Cover up as much as you can and still enjoy the barbecue. But wear mosquito repellant! It can add another layer of protection,” Douglass said.
Stanislaus County Health Services recommends residents wear mosquito repellant containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 whenever they are outdoors.
The best way to prevent West Nile Virus is to stop the mosquitoes that carry the virus from multiplying. Mosquitoes need standing water to survive as larvae, and Oakdale and Riverbank provides many opportunities for standing water. Neglected swimming pools, ponds, troughs, and even flowerpots can offer mosquitoes a place to multiply. Dumping all unnecessary standing water and changing water regularly helps reduce the chance of mosquitoes around the home and workplace. East Side Mosquito abatement district asks that residents report neglected swimming pools in their neighborhoods so that East Side MAD can investigate and treat the pool for mosquito larvae. The district also offers mosquito treatments for ponds. Residents can call 522-4098 for a free consultation about any pond or neglected pool.
Fore more information about West Nile Virus, Stanislaus County residents can visit www.schsa.org.