The California Legislature has declared April 17 – 23, 2016 as West Nile Virus and Mosquito and Vector Control Awareness Week. Mosquito control agencies across the state aim to raise awareness and educate Californians about the threat mosquitoes and vectors can pose to our communities.
At the Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District (PMVCD), the office is abuzz with activity. “While our mosquito programs function all year-round, spring is when we really ramp up all of our mosquito activities; from mosquito surveillance, prevention education, to control of mosquito larvae and mosquito adults.” stated Joel Buettner, District Manager. “Although we have had a lot of adult mosquito activity in the past few months, the good news is, we have not yet seen any West Nile virus activity in Placer County.” states Buettner. As the District has been busy preparing for West Nile virus, they ask residents to do the same. “We encourage all our residents time to help us minimize mosquito populations by dumping out containers and eliminating drainage problems on your property. By reducing mosquito locations now, we can reduce the risks associated with mosquito bites and West Nile virus later in the season” states Buettner.
Last year, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) confirmed 783 cases of WNV in California. Of these, 544 developed the more severe neuroinvasive form of the disease resulting in a record 53 fatalities. Although Placer County recorded only one asymptomatic case in 2015, mosquito numbers and mosquito infection rates remained high, similar to previous years.
In addition to the recurring threat from West Nile virus every year, mosquito control agencies in California are at varying stages of prevention of new invasive mosquitoes. Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti have been discovered in several cities in southern and central California, where agencies are actively managing the spread of these mosquitoes, and many other agencies in northern California, including the PMVCD, are setting up extensive surveillance programs to detect the presence of invasive mosquitoes. Together, these mosquitoes are capable of transmitting some of the most debilitating and deadly diseases.
Placer residents can do a variety of things to help the community and reduce the risk from mosquitoes this season. Among these things are reporting potential mosquito sources or unusual mosquito behavior, such as mosquitoes biting during the daytime. Residents can also help identify high-risk areas for West Nile virus by reporting dead birds to the California Dead Bird Hotline at (877) 968-2473.