Home / Health / Butte County officials alert on West Nile virus – Chico Enterprise-Record

Butte County officials alert on West Nile virus – Chico Enterprise-Record

COUNTY OF FIGHT – Public health officials warn of a possible significant increase in the number of West Nile virus cases this summer.

The recent rains, combined with the difficulties left by the camp fire, create a refuge for mosquitoes. Authorities warn that several factors can contribute to one of the worst summers of West Nile virus cases if residents do not take precautions now.

"For the moment, we are really on the alert," said Matt Ball, district director of vector control and mosquitoes in Butte County. "Just a mosquito bite."

As precipitation increases, many breeding grounds and stagnant puddles are still present in the area, including various containers, gutters, septic tanks, debris and stagnant puddles. The remaining water, combined with rising temperatures, creates quite the "perfect storm" for mosquitoes in the area, according to Ball.

Historically, West Nile virus becomes active every June and begins to fade during the colder fall months around October. Although Ball has stated that some of the water sources in which mosquitoes breed will disappear as the heat returns, homeowners must remain vigilant.

Dead mosquitoes brought back to Butte Mosquito County and the Vector Control District to be tested are seen Wednesday in Oroville. (Matt Bates – Enterprise-Record)

"We've seen West Nile cases as early as January," said Ball. "We want our audience to be vigilant all year round. As long as Mother Nature continues to irrigate the water for free, urban drool and artificial water sources will always be a factor and will remain a problem throughout the summer. Empty unnecessary stagnant water on your property, use mosquito nets for windows and doors and people should always wear a mosquito repellent. "

Like many natural cures for fighting mosquitoes, including lemon and eucalyptus oil, Ball explained that lemongrass candles are not an effective measure against mosquitoes compared to DEET mosquito spray.

Although all birds may carry West Nile virus, Butte County's corvid hosts – crows, crows, magpies, stellar jays, and mountain jays – are primarily carriers of its virus. A mosquito must feed on an infected bird to catch the virus capable of transmitting itself to humans.

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