This is the first detection of the virus in Stanislaus County this year. District officials in Turlock are wary of the current activity following last year’s devastating outbreak, which soared across Stanislaus County, reaching record level infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Twenty-six people were reported to have contracted WNV in 2012, the highest incidence rate to date in Stanislaus County since 2004.
“We are very concerned for the public,” said Turlock Mosquito Abatement District General Manager David Heft. “We saw things last year we didn’t see before, and that worries us.”
As of June 21, the California Department of Public Health was reporting West Nile activity in 19 countries and has already been detected in 37 dead birds and 70 mosquitoes.
A fatality has already been under review in Sacramento County, but remains to be the only reported case in humans so far.
Eight dead birds have been tested positive in neighboring counties, Merced and San Joaquin.
“Ever since it came to the Valley in 2004, we’ve seen an increase over the years,” said Patterson native and Turlock veterinarian Craig Brooks. “Without exception, we’ve seen cases every year. The virus persists here more than any other area because we have ideal conditions for the mosquitoes in this county.”
The California Department of Food and Agriculture sent out an early warning this year in spring due to WNV’s persistence.
The CDFA is encouraging all horse owners to consult their local veterinarian to ensure that all horses are currently vaccinated.
Brooks has witnessed roughly five WNV cases in horses a year within the Valley on average since 2004.
In the U.S., most people become infected throughout June to September, climaxing in mid-August, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Mosquitoes gravitate towards water, especially ponds, water troughs, or foreclosed homes with pools.
“They are still a major concern for us,” said Heft. “We are continuing to watch a trend. Last year was the first year a number of neglected pools went down due to housing prices. Hopefully, that is an indication that the foreclosed homes are closing down. Any empty swimming pools filled with rain water usually release a million mosquitoes, and we don’t know about them unless people call to report them.”
This year, the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District is planning to host a Neglected Pools Program to stop the reoccurring infestations in urban residences. They are also offering free mosquito fish for horse troughs, swimming pools, or ponds near residential homes.
“The mosquito fish do an excellent job of keeping the mosquito population down, and we are very happy to give them away for free,” said Heft. “Stanislaus County is one of the most common regions to find mosquitoes, and the virus is much more active here. The diseases we are concerned with are all preventable, and we’ll do our best to keep the public safe.”
Residents are encouraged to call their local mosquito abatement district at 634-1234 to report suspected mosquito breeding locations, or visit http:www.mosquitoturlock.com.
Stanislaus County residents can call the Stanislaus County West Nile Virus Hotline at 558-8425 for recorded information on the virus.
To report dead birds, visit www.westnile.ca.gov or call 1-877-968-2473.
• Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or firstname.lastname@example.org.