Mosquitoes in Santa Barbara take a look at constructive for West Nile virus

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Source: Mosquito & Vector Management District of Santa Barbara County

A sample of mosquitoes taken from a Santa Barbara mosquito trap tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV), according to the Santa Barbara County’s Mosquito & Vector Management District. The mosquitoes were caught as part of the ongoing surveillance of the recently discovered invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito, which was discovered earlier this month.

“It’s not the first time the West Nile virus has been found in Santa Barbara County,” said Brian Cabrera, district general manager. “However, it’s been three years since it was last discovered.”

People can get WNV from the bite of an infected mosquito. However, most of the people who acquire the virus do not know they are infected and do not develop symptoms. But about one in five infected people develops symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches and nausea. In about 1% of people who receive WNV, infection can lead to serious complications, including encephalitis or meningitis, coma, and even death.

Residents are urged to take action to combat “Fight the Bite” including the “Three Ds”:

Deet – use deet or other repellants approved by the Environmental Protection Agency;
Dawn and dusk – Avoid being outside during these times when the mosquitoes are most active.
Drain – Empty any standing water sources mosquitoes lay their eggs in, including buckets, bird baths, clogged gutters, old tires, containers of all kinds, unused hot tubs, etc.

Wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants can also provide protection from mosquitos. Larger springs where mosquitoes breed, such as B. neglected swimming pools or stagnant water in creek beds and washes can be reported to the district at (805) 969-5050.

Wild birds are the main source of the virus for mosquitoes. Crows, ravens, jays, and magpies are particularly susceptible to the virus and often get sick and die after being infected. Residents are asked to report dead birds to the California Department of Health’s Dead Bird Hotline. If the dead birds are still in good condition, the district will collect them and have them tested for WNV. Reports can be submitted online at http://westnile.ca.gov/report.php or by calling 1-877-968-2473 (1-877-WNV-BIRD). Horses are also susceptible to the virus, but luckily a vaccine is available.

The California Department of Health has a West Nile Virus website with lots of valuable information and a website called Insect Repellent Toolkit for information on how to keep you and your family safe from mosquito bites. You can find these websites at:

http://westnile.ca.gov/
https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Dont-Give-Bugs-a-Biting-Chance.aspx

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