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West Nile spray alert

Setting It Straight: A map Monday on Metro Page B3 accompanying the continuation of a Page B1 story about aerial mosquito spraying in northern Sacramento County mislabeled Elverta Road as Elkhorn Boulevard.

People living north of the American River in Sacramento County are being advised to stay indoors and close windows and doors starting about 8 this evening to prevent exposure to an insecticide that will be sprayed to reduce the mosquito population.

The aerial spraying is being done because the rate of mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus is exceptionally high in the Sacramento area. As of Friday, Sacramento County reported 22 people were infected with the illness, the highest number of any county in the state. Seven were reported critically ill, county health officials said.

The spraying by two twin-engine planes will be done three nights in a row in the northern portion of the county - unless windy conditions or other weather problems arise. The applications will begin around 8 p.m. because dusk is when mosquitoes are most active, said David Brown, general manager of the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District.

The targeted area will extend from Folsom to the eastern edge of Sacramento International Airport, and north nearly to the Placer County line. The district plans to conduct a similar application south of the American River, possibly beginning Thursday. The boundaries had not been set as of Sunday.

The insecticide contains an active ingredient called pyrethrum, and will be applied at a rate of less than two-thirds of an ounce per acre, Brown said. It will be sprayed in minuscule droplets that will kill tiny flying insects, but will be safe for animals and people, he said. The spraying is not expected to produce an odor. Larger insects, such as butterflies, should not be affected because they are not active that time of night, he said.

The vector district advises all people in the affected area to stay indoors when dusk falls tonight.

"I am very comfortable with the product and the Environmental Protection Agency's guidelines for using it," Brown said, who added he would not be taking the added measures. "We don't believe people should be overly concerned. However, we want to address the concerns of those who are."

For further precautions, the district suggested the following:

* Turn off air conditioning or other ventilation that brings in air from the outside. It will be hot, so people might want to consider turning thermostats to colder settings a couple of hours before dusk.

* Bring toys, tools, patio furniture, pets, bikes and other portable items indoors.

* Cover playground equipment and other large outdoor items.

* Remove shoes before coming indoors.

* After spraying, wash outdoor surfaces that people may touch.

Brown, who said he will not be hosing down his outdoor possessions, urged people not to use so much water they create new mosquito habitat. Mosquitoes can breed in even the smallest pools of standing water. For more information, check www.fightthebite.net.

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