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Mosquito season comes to an end
2 human cases of West Nile Virus reported in Turlock
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West Nile Update

So far for 2010

* Three human cases of West Nile Virus were reported in the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District

* 83 trapped mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile

* 34 dead birds were found to have West Nile

Turlock’s mosquito season is coming to a close, and the risk of contracting West Nile Virus will continue to decrease until mid-November. 

“The last two weeks (of mosquito activity) has slowed down drastically,” said Jerry Davis, manager of Turlock Mosquito Abatement District.

The good news for trick-or-treaters this Halloween is that rainy weather deters mosquitoes, and anyone wearing a full coverage costume will not need to wear bug spray.

Davis said that cooler temperatures mean fewer mosquitos, and less of a chance of getting bit by a mosquito.  These insects, which are known carriers of the West Nile Virus, go into hibernation during the colder months. During the next few weeks they will seek out warmer places to hide out during the winter, and that could include heated buildings.

“People might notice mosquitoes in their house, but they are less likely to bite,” Davis said.

The risk of catching West Nile Virus is lower this time of year, Davis explained, because both mosquitoes and the virus need warmer weather to thrive. There are probably still infected mosquitoes in the Turlock area, but there will be low levels of the virus in the insect. Even if an infected mosquito bit someone, Davis said, chances are low that the person would become infected with West Nile Virus. The exception is people with a lowered immune system.

“We don’t expect to see any new cases this year,” Davis said.

So far there have been two reported human cases of West Nile Virus in Turlock this year. West Nile Virus can cause brain swelling, permanent neurological damage, and death. The first infected Turlocker had an onset of West Nile symptoms on July 6. The second had symptoms starting Aug. 25. A Ceres resident was also infected with West Nile Virus, with symptom onset on July 3.

Cases of West Nile Virus are reported to the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District after the patient has been tested at a hospital and the disease is confirmed. For that reason, the district might not hear about human cases until three weeks after the onset of symptoms.

“That’s why we prefer to use our own traps and testing to locate infected mosquitoes,” Davis said.

The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District trapped 83 West Nile Virus positive mosquitoes in 2010. The district boundaries include Turlock, Newman, Patterson, Hughson, Ceres and unincorporated areas of Stanislaus County. There were 89 infected mosquitoes caught in the district last year. There are still a few mosquito traps out for testing but trapping is done for 2010. 

Another way that the district can look for West Nile Virus is by testing dead birds found in the area. This year 34 dead birds were found to have West Nile Virus in Stanislaus County. That is up from 28 birds in 2009. Davis said that this year wasn’t the worst for West Nile Virus incidents, but TMAD is already taking preventative measures for next year.

“West Nile Virus is here to stay,” Davis said.

Although mosquitoes are not active during the winter months, Davis urges residents within the district to report neglected pools. Residential swimming pools that are not maintained can be breeding grounds for the next generation of mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus. Even previously emptied pools can collect standing water during the rainy winter months. Mosquito fish are still available for free from TMAD for ponds, neglected pools, or any large standing body of water.

To request Turlock Mosquito Abatement District Services, to report a large number of mosquitoes, or to report a neglected pool call 634-1234.

 To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.