September 17, 2003

LOCAL WEST NILE VIRUS TASK FORCE

BEGINS PUBLIC INFORMATION EDUCATION

 

                (Stockton, CA) –The recent finding of West Nile Virus in mosquito pools and birds in parts of Southern California means the disease could be traveling north soon.  Officials from the Mosquito Control District and the County have been preparing for the arrival of the disease in San Joaquin County through the formation of a task force consisting of the Mosquito Control District and several County departments.  No human cases of West Nile Virus have been contracted in California to date this year.  The public can get additional information through a recorded message on the San Joaquin County WNV Public Information line at 209-469-8200.

                The San Joaquin West Nile Virus Task Force, comprised of the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District, San Joaquin County Public Health Services, San Joaquin County Environmental Health, San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, and the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services, had its first meeting in May and is now stepping up efforts to inform county residents about how to prevent contracting WNV.  The best way to avoid getting WNV is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.

                WNV is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite.  Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.  Individuals can reduce their risk of mosquito-borne diseases by taking these precautions:

·         Apply insect repellent with DEET according to label instructions.

·         Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn and dusk.

·         When outdoors, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

·         Make sure that doors and windows have tight fitting screens.  Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

·         Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property that can support mosquito breeding.

·         Contact the mosquito and vector control agency if there is a significant mosquito problem where you live or work.

Most individuals who are infected with WNV will not experience any illness.  Others will have only mild symptoms, such as fever, headache and body aches.  However, WNV can be severe in the elderly and individuals with lowered immune systems.

Last year, California’s first reported human case of WNV was recorded in Los Angeles County.  The woman fully recovered.  Further WNV activity was not detected despite extensive monitoring for the virus.  Last year, over 4,000 human cases were reported across the United States, including 277 deaths.  As of Sept. 15 of this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile Virus had infected over 3,541 people in 37 states, resulting in 66 deaths.