Monterey County Health Officials Remind Residents to Protect Themselves from Mosquitoes that May Carry West Nile Virus
The Monterey County Health Department received confirmation today that a sparrow found in North Monterey County has tested positive for the West Nile virus (WVN). This is the first WNV-infected bird confirmed by the California Department of Public Health in Monterey County for 2012. Monterey County Health Officials want to remind Monterey County residents to prevent WNV infections by protecting themselves from mosquito bites.
“Warm weather promotes the breeding of mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus,” Monterey County Interim Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez said. “While no predictions can be made about the severity of West Nile virus this season, Monterey County residents should take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites by applying insect repellent and eliminating all sources of standing water around their homes.”
WNV is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.
The most effective ways for individuals to prevent exposure to mosquito bites and WNV are:
- DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 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.
- DRESS – Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
- DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes that carry WNV bite in the early morning and evening, so it is important to wear repellent at this time. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
- 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 have a pond, use mosquito fish or commercially available products to eliminate mosquito larvae.
Most individuals who are infected with WNV will not experience any illness. Individuals 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop serious symptoms when infected with WNV. Recent data also indicate that those with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and/or hypertension as well as immunocompromised individuals are at greatest risk for serious illness.
California’s WNV Web site – www.westnile.ca.gov – has been updated to make it easier for the public to find the latest information on WNV activity in the state. In order to help identify WNV activity, Californians are encouraged to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels on the Web site or call toll-free 1-877-WNV-BIRD (968-2473).