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Mosquito abatement season comes to an end

Seven human West Nile cases reported in county

POSTED September 20, 2011 9:00 p.m.

The mosquito abatement season is coming to a close at the end of this month, and the current count of human West Nile Virus cases is up to seven in Stanislaus County. Two of the infected live in the Denair and East Turlock areas, although one case may have been contracted outside of the area.

Mosquito season can last through November, but activity slows down considerably in cooler weather. Jerry Davis, outgoing manager of Turlock Mosquito Abatement District, said last year that historically mosquito activity slows down considerably in October.

The district anticipates that peak mosquito abatement season will come to a close on Sept. 30, when the district plans to lay off all seasonal control assistants. Milt Richards, member of the district board of trustees, said the layoff is a standard procedure the district takes every year when the peak mosquito season ends. 

“They are temporary seasonal employees and we let them go at the end of the summer when there isn’t any work for them to do,” Richards said.

The district will still be managing mosquitoes, but Richards said there will be less demand as the mosquito season comes to a close.

“We still continue to spray, just not as heavily,” Richards said.

Mosquito abatement is the biggest step in slowing the spread of West Nile Virus. The virus is spread through bites from contaminated mosquitoes and can lead to encephalitis, brain damage or death in about 1 percent of infected people. So far there have been no deaths linked to West Nile Virus in Stanislaus County this year. The two cases that occurred in Turlock resulted in hospitalization of both victims. According to the district’s manager’s report, however, one case may have been contracted in nearby Merced County, where the victim spent a lot of time working.

During the month of August, 35 mosquito samples out of 276 tested positive for West Nile Virus. That brought the year’s total of mosquito samples to 45. The district has so far treated 7,000 fewer acres for mosquitoes than at the same time in 2010. Below normal temperatures have delayed West Nile Virus activity resulting in fewer acres sprayed to control adult mosquitoes.

District personnel answered 75 service requests in August, compared to 43 service requests last year.

“The public’s heightened awareness of mosquitoes breeding in backyard sources resulted in the district receiving more calls regarding neighborhood swimming pools and hot tubs,” the report said.

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

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