West Nile virus activity increasing in Winters, Yolo County

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West Nile virus activity is increasing around Yolo County, the local vector control district reported on Aug. 17.

Laboratory surveillance results obtained last Wednesday revealed 12 mosquito samples and two dead birds tested positive for the virus.

“Over the last couple of weeks, virus activity has been steadily increasing especially in the cities of Woodland, Davis and surrounding areas where most of the activity is currently concentrated,” according to the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District.

Areas within Sacramento County have also registered activity and are also being closely monitored.

So far in 2022, the district has found six dead birds and 37 mosquito samples positive for West Nile virus in Yolo County. All six birds were found in Davis.

Another 23 dead birds and 17 mosquito samples have tested positive in Sacramento County.

“In general, (West Nile virus) activity has not been as intense this year and it is much lower than other seasons,” said Gary Goodman, district manager.

“However, the extremely hot weather of this week can quickly change this. We are in the middle of summer and it’s important to not let your guard down. Everyone needs to be aware and protect themselves from mosquitoes and West Nile virus,” said Goodman.

In addition to mosquitoes and dead birds that have tested positive, Yolo County’s Health & Human Services Agency also confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in the county earlier this month.

That individual suffered from the neuroinvasive form of the virus but was recovering.

West Nile is spread to humans by mosquito bites and 80 percent of those infected will not show any symptoms. However, for the other 20 percent, symptoms usually appear between two and 14 days after being bitten and can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a rash on the chest, stomach and back.

About one in 150 people infected with West Nile virus will develop severe illness with symptoms including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

People over the age of 50 and those who have diabetes or hypertension are more likely to develop serious symptoms of West Nile virus and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites, health officials have said.

Statewide, 12 California residents have tested positive for West Nile this summer, including the Yolo County resident as well as a resident of Solano County. Since 2003, the state has reported more than 7,000 human cases and over 300 deaths from West Nile.

In response to increased West Nile virus activity here, the vector control district will increase its mosquito trapping and monitoring in the area to find sources where mosquitoes may be breeding. Targeted ground spraying around affected areas will also be conducted to rapidly decrease the numbers of adult mosquitoes that can pose a public health threat, the district said.

Another ongoing concern is the invasive mosquito Aedes aegypti, which were detected for the first time within the district’s boundaries in 2019.

To date, surveillance efforts have detected ongoing invasive mosquito populations in Winters as well as several areas of Sacramento County. Invasive mosquitoes pose a significant health threat because they can transmit dangerous viruses including Zika, dengue fever and chikungunya.

For current information about district activities, visit https://www.fightthebite.net.

Residents may also subscribe to mailing lists to receive email notifications for upcoming mosquito treatments by zip code. To sign up, go to “Spray Notifications” on the website. Information for current treatments planned is also available on the website.

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