Tuesday, November 29, 2016

West Nile virus arrives early in Sacramento

West Nile virus has been observed earlier and faster this past summer in Sacramento, especially compared to last year’s report at the same time period. According to the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District, 47 infected dead birds and 30 mosquito samples have been reported.

This increase is attributed to recent rains and warmer days that encourage faster mosquito breeding cycles. The combination of spring rain and subsequent 100-degree weather has created ideal conditions for breeding mosquitoes.

According to Luz Maria Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the Sacramento-Yolo mosquito district, “Heat increases the life cycle of mosquitoes, so we weren’t surprised, after we had over-100 degree days, when we saw an increase in activity.” Sacramento County currently reports the second highest number of West Nile-infected dead birds in California.

Dead birds are the predominant indicator of West Nile virus, which is commonly found in crows, blue jays, and magpies. Most people infected with the virus demonstrate no symptoms, but 20% of those infected will subsequently suffer from fever coupled with other symptoms, including headaches and body pain. There is currently no vaccine, and prevention methods include mosquito repellant and long-sleeved clothing when outdoors.

- Linda Shin

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