With the peak of summer just around the corner, the threat of West Nile virus in Turlock could become a serious reality, experts say.
Although there hasn't been a reported case this year, there is a “definite chance” of possible incidents this summer, said Monica Patterson, vector biologist at the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District.
WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, and can infect people, horses, many types of birds, and some other animals.
Although symptoms aren’t apparent in 80 percent of those affected, according to the Centers for Disease Control — fever, headaches, bone aches, rashes, and swollen lymph nodes are all signs of contraction. More severe symptoms include paralysis, tremors, coma and even death.
Patterson said that Stanislaus County is ideal for WNV due to the perfect microclimate and correct species of mosquitoes and birds that can carry the arbovirus.
Last year, the county reported 26 cases of WNV, two of which were in Turlock.
Although there have been no positive reports this year for the Stanislaus County, two positive bird samples and two positive mosquito samples have been detected in Tulare and Fresno counties.
According to Lloyd Douglass, manager of the East Side MAD, WNV will be making an appearance this summer.
"West Nile Virus is here to stay,” said Douglass. ”We expect to see WNV activity again this year.”
Peak season for contracting West Nile begins in June and ends late October.
“A lot of people think that summer ends right after Labor Day,” said Patterson. “But the threat of being infected goes all the way into October.”
Stanislaus County Health Services agency stated that the best means of combating WNV is taking preventive measures. The SCHA urges residents of areas that are prone to infection to wear mosquito repellents, proper clothing and avoid dawn and dusk, as these are the times mosquito prevalence is at its peak.
In Turlock and surrounding areas, authorities are taking further measures by taking aerial surveys, addressing neglected pools, setting up identification traps and doing constant lab work.
According to the TMAD, the traps are set up in the surrounding areas of Denair, Turlock and Ceres and continuous monitoring is done on the collected samples.
Just in this month alone TMAD has sprayed areas in Hughson, Denair, Turlock and Ceres in lieu of “observed increased adult mosquito activity.”
“We are constantly monitoring for mosquitoes and viruses and aggressively looking for potential development sites,” said Patterson.
Patterson also noted the importance of local residents doing their part and “taking personal responsibility.” She said local community members could help by reporting dead birds, neglected pools and dumping out stagnant bodies of water that could pose as a possible site where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
For more information regarding WNV and prevention of the virus visit, www.mosquitoturlock.com
To report a dead bird please contact the West Nile Virus Dead Bird Surveillance Program: 877-968-2473