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West Nile found in Turlock

First human case reported in state

POSTED July 22, 2011 8:46 p.m.

Turlock Mosquito Abatement District has confirmed that West Nile Virus is again active in Stanislaus County. Three mosquito samples taken in Turlock on July 8 and one dead bird from the area tested positive for West Nile Virus. This announcement came just days before the California Department of Public Health confirmed the first human case of West Nile Virus in the state this year.

West Nile Virus is spread to humans primarily through bites from infected mosquitoes. West Nile Virus symptoms can range from flu-like aches, fever and pain to more severe symptoms. The virus can cause swelling of the brain, which can result in permanent nervous system damage, paralysis or death.

The Santa Barbara County man who was infected with West Nile Virus was hospitalized but is now recovering at home. Two human cases of West Nile Virus were reported in Turlock last year. Other Californians may be suffering from less severe cases of West Nile Virus that go unreported because they do not seek medical care.

"With the first confirmed human illness from West Nile virus this year, we are intensifying our surveillance for the virus with the help of all counties,” said CDPH Chief Deputy Director Kathleen Billingsley. “To protect against West Nile virus, the most important step people can take is avoiding mosquito bites.”

Turlock Mosquito Abatement District sets mosquito traps and tests samples of trapped mosquitoes for West Nile. Three samples from two different traps around Turlock contained West Nile Virus positive mosquitoes. Additionally, a dead bird found in Turlock tested positive for West Nile Virus. Jerry Davis, manager of Turlock Mosquito Abatement District, said that the presence of dead birds is often an indicator that West Nile Virus infected mosquitoes are present in the area.

“It tells us that the virus is circulating. Just because the sample was taken in one area doesn’t mean you are safe from West Nile on the other side of town. The virus is circulating throughout Stanislaus County,” Davis said.

The best way to avoid West Nile Virus is to avoid mosquito bites. Davis said residents should avoid spending time outside at dusk and dawn, the times mosquitoes are most active. Anyone who must be outside during that time should wear mosquito repellant that contains DEET, picaradin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Turlock Mosquito Abatement District sprays for mosquitoes to help reduce adult populations, but Davis said that the best way to reduce mosquitoes is to stop their reproduction in the Turlock area. Mosquitoes lay their larva in standing water, often neglected pools or ponds. The district provides mosquito fish, which eat the larva, free of charge. These fish can be used in horse troughs, ornamental ponds, neglected swimming pools and most standing water that might attract mosquitoes.  Davis urges residents to report neglected swimming pools in neighbors’ yards so they can be properly treated to prevent mosquitoes. The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District also has a dead bird hotline that residents can call to report birds that have been dead for less than 24 hours.

“People aren’t calling in dead birds like they were in the past,” Davis said.

The dead bird hotline number is 1-877-968-2473. For all other services, Turlock residents can call 634-1234 for Turlock Mosquito Abatement District.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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