West Nile virus is confirmed in Stanislaus County. How to prevent catching the disease

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Health officials are stressing measures to prevent mosquito bites after the West Nile virus was detected in Stanislaus County.

On Friday, mosquito abatement districts confirmed the endemic virus in a mosquito sample. So far, the virus capable of causing a serious neurological disease has been detected in nine counties of California this year. As of June 12, no cases of human infection have been reported.

The heavy storms in the past winter and standing water have promoted mosquito activity this spring in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. A single mosquito bite may transmit the West Nile virus to a person. Horses are also vulnerable to the disease.

“The late rains and increased temperatures will hasten the development of West Nile virus in the Central Valley,” said David Heft, general manager of the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District, who was quoted in a news release.

“We urge residents to dump and drain any items around their home that may hold standing water and to use repellents when outside in the dawn and dusk hours,” Heft said.

West Nile may cause a fever and headache for several weeks in about 20% of people infected. A more serious and potentially fatal illness occurs in less than 1% of infections.

The Turlock and East Side mosquito abatement districts have surveillance programs to identify where mosquitoes are breeding and monitor for mosquito-borne diseases. Cases of West Nile infection in people usually surface in the warmer months.

Residents can take precautions by:

  • Draining items like flower pots or pet bowls where mosquitoes lay their eggs.

  • Using repellents containing DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon.

  • Reporting swimming pools that are not cleaned regularly.

  • Making sure the house has tight-fitting doors and window screens.

Horse owners are advised to contact their veterinarian about a West Nile vaccination.

County residents north of the Tuolumne River may report mosquito problems by calling Eastside Mosquito Abatement District at 209-522-4098. Those living south of the Tuolumne should call Turlock Mosquito Abatement District, 209-634-1234.

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