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Local resident hospitalized from West Nile Virus

POSTED September 4, 2009 11:13 p.m.
A 73-year-old local woman has become the first confirmed case of West Nile Virus in the Turlock area this year. She remains hospitalized from the disease, which she contracted in the last week of August.
This is the third confirmed case of WNV in Stanislaus County this year, and the first which has required hospitalization. The first confirmed infection, in a 52-year-old male, was announced July 30.
“Putting this in perspective, during the four seasons we’ve had WNV to date, this is the lowest number of cases, so that’s the good news,” said County Public Health Officer Dr. John Walker. “The bad news is this can be a bad disease, and we really, especially, want to protect our seniors.”
While the WNV season got off to a slow start this year, activity was unusually intense in the month of August compared to years past. Positive mosquito samples normally level off in August, but 45 WNV-positive local mosquito samples were recorded this year compared to 20 a year ago.
According to the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District, 53 positive mosquito samples have been detected in the district this year. One horse has also tested positive for WNV, and three of four sentinel chicken flocks in the district have recorded incidences of the virus.
“The take home on this is that we’re finding the virus in different localities, and the mosquitoes are starting to move in from farmlands to around houses,” said Turlock Mosquito Abatement District Manager Jerry Davis. “People need to start using insect repellent.”
As the weather cools down each year, mosquitoes migrate in from the fields towards the city in search of moisture, making this one of the most dangerous times of the year for WNV infection.
While the TMAD is engaging in adulticiding efforts to reduce mosquito populations, Davis advised the use of screens on doors and mosquito sprays for the home, available at local hardware stores. He also suggested residents contact the District if they notice a concentration of mosquitoes, dead birds, or neglected pools.
WNV is considered to be “relatively preventable,” by avoiding dawn and dusk — when mosquitoes are most active — and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside. Mosquito repellent is also recommended.
While this year’s WNV season has been relatively quiet so far, officials urged residents to remain weary of the potentially fatal disease.
“It comes at a time when most of our attention is on the H1N1 swine flu virus, but it’s still a threat,” Walker said.
To report a dead bird, which can be a potential carrier of West Nile virus, call the Dead Bird Hotline at 1 (877) 968-2473.
For help with mosquito problems, or to receive free mosquito fish to combat infestation in ponds or troughs, call TMAD at 634-1234.
For more information on West Nile Virus, visit www.stanemergency.com
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.
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