The threat of West Nile Virus remains high across the area as Merced County reported its first confirmed human cases of the virus this year.
The two Merced County individuals affected by West Nile were hospitalized and have since recovered, according to the Merced County Department of Public Health.
“All residents, especially those over 50 years of age, and those with chronic health conditions, should take every precaution to protect themselves and their families from West Nile Virus,” said Kathleen Grassi, director of the Merced County Department of Public Health.
As of Friday, there have been 375 reported human cases of WNV in 28 counties across the state, including 15 fatalities. Two 65-year-old men from Stanislaus County are among those fatalities. Stanislaus County has confirmed 28 West Nile virus cases, which is the third highest rate of human infections in the state after Orange County (139) and Los Angeles County (69).
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.
The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District website indicates Turlock has seen 9 confirmed human cases, as well as 30 dead birds.
The CDPH recommends that individuals prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus by practicing the “Three Ds:”
1. DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
2. DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
3. DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact your local mosquito and vector control agency.
The East Side and Turlock Mosquito Abatement Districts are treating mosquito habitats using ground and aerial spray equipment and are doing aerial surveillance photography for neglected swimming pools.
The Districts provide mosquito fish, free of charge, to put in ornamental ponds and other backyard locations. To report mosquito-breeding problem areas, residents should contact one of the two mosquito abatement districts that serve the county. For areas north of the Tuolumne River, residents should call the Eastside Mosquito Abatement District at 522-4098 (www.eastsidemosquito.com) all others should contact the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District at 634-1234 (turlockmosquito.org). Reporting and testing of dead birds also helps in locating areas needing treatment for West Nile Virus. To report a dead bird, call the California State hotline at 1-877-WNV-BIRD or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.