This winter Northern California experienced significant rainfall, which has contributed to standing water. Standing water serves as a breeding source for mosquitoes that can spread West Nile Virus. Hot temperatures also contribute to increasing numbers of breeding mosquitoes and an increased risk of virus transmission to humans. Therefore, as we enter the summer season it is important for residents to be aware of mosquitoes and take measures to reduce their risk of contracting the West Nile Virus.
What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile Virus is a potentially serious illness that affects the central nervous system. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected with the virus after feeding on birds with West Nile Virus. The mosquitoes then bite humans, horses and other animals spreading the disease.
What are the symptoms of West Nile Virus?
Most individuals who are infected with West Nile Virus do not experience any symptoms, but 1 out of 5 infections produce fever, rash, headaches, and body aches. People over 50 and those with chronic medical conditions are most likely to develop complications from West Nile Virus.
How can I Fight the Bite?
You can stay healthy by using simple, proven strategies to protect yourself and your family. The best way to avoid West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites by remembering the five D’s:
• DEET – When you are outdoors, use insect repellents containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). Always follow label instructions.
• DAWN and DUSK – Stay inside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. If you must go outside, use insect repellent, and wear long sleeves and pants. Light-colored clothing can help you see mosquitoes that land on you.
• DOORS – Make sure that doors and windows have tight fitting screens. Repair and replace screens that have tears or holes to help keep mosquitoes out.
• DRAIN standing water from flowerpots, buckets, and barrels to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. Change the water in pet dishes daily and replace the water in birdbaths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water can drain out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and standing on their sides when they are not being used.
What about horses?
Horses can also get West Nile Virus. Although most will recover, about 1 out of 3 horses displaying clinical signs of West Nile Virus will die or must be put down. Horses become infected in the same way humans do – from mosquito bites. Those that are bitten may show signs of stumbling, circling, hind leg weakness, inability to stand, and muscle tremors. There is a vaccine to prevent West Nile Virus for horses, and horse owners should contact their veterinarians for more information.
You Can Help Fight the Bite!
California monitors dead birds, so we can tell when West Nile Virus is in a community. If you find a dead bird, do not touch it or pick it up; use a shovel, gloves, or inverted plastic bags to handle the animal, place it in a plastic bag, and report what you found by filing an online report at https://westnile.ca.gov or call 1-877-968-2473.
To report standing water where mosquitoes may be breeding or problems with increased mosquito activity, please call Tehama County Mosquito and Vector Control at (530) 527-1676.
For More Information:
Check out the state’s West Nile Virus website at https://westnile.ca.gov/faq.
Tehama County Health Services Agency – Public Health
Red Bluff: (530) 527-6824; Corning: (530) 824-4890; or Toll Free: 1-800-655-6854
Please see Public Service Announcement in English and Spanish: