Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer
Division of Environmental Health
PRESS RELEASEDate Released: 7/26/2006
Subject: FIGHT THE BITE
Contact: Brent Whitener, Vector Control Officer
Phone: (707) 445-6215
Join the “Fight the Bite” team
West Nile Virus, the mosquito-borne disease active during summer months, is infecting birds and people from Shasta to San Bernardino counties again in California. This marks the third year that mosquitoes have spread the disease to California residents. West Nile Virus was found in Humboldt County birds over the past two years, but no locally acquired infections in humans or horses have been reported.
The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Health Division wants to remind Humboldt residents of several steps they can take to help “fight the bite” and reduce the chance of mosquito bites and disease risk this summer. These include:
• Use insect repellant containing active ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil according to label directions. The repellants are not a pesticide, but make the female mosquito want to shy away from you and not bite.
• Many mosquitoes are active at dawn and dusk, so avoid outdoor activities at these times of day or wear long pants and long sleeved shirts to cover exposed skin.
• Limit standing water that acts as mosquito breeding sources around the home.
Residents are urged to “kick the bucket”, because that white bucket in your back yard will hatch several hundred mosquitoes every several weeks if not drained.
• Vacationers are urged to remember that summer travel elsewhere in California, such as the central valley or southern reaches of the state, will place their family in areas where the virus and mosquitoes are far more active than here along the north coast. It is especially important to protect yourself and your family while traveling, camping or vacationing in locales where the virus is active.
Humboldt County’s Environmental Health Division continues to monitor mosquito activity, reports of dead birds, and veterinarian reports of any illness in horses. The county’s Public Health Branch nursing staff track blood bank testing and any reports of human illness that may be linked to West Nile Virus. Residents can assist by reporting any dead birds found to the West Nile Virus Dead Bird Hot-Line in Richmond by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (1-877-968-2473). Local environmental health staff will pick up and ship the bird for testing. More than two dozen birds have tested negative from Humboldt thus far this year.
“Coastal counties seem to have less risk of West Nile infections than inland areas, probably due in part to cooler temperatures” according to Brent Whitener, Vector Control officer at the Environmental Health Division. “ This allows us to control mosquitoes with common sense methods that avoid the use of spraying pesticides”
Questions about West Nile and mosquitoes can be directed to the Environmental Health Division by calling (707) 445-6215 or toll free at 1-800-963-9241. A state web site at www.westnile.ca.gov has the latest West Nile case information statewide as well as tips on mosquito control.