Health & Medicine

Sacramento-Yolo mosquito district offers free repellent for Tuesday’s National Night Out events

How to stay safe from mosquitoes

Zika and West Nile viruses are both transmitted by mosquitoes. Officials from public health and from Sacramento-Yolo vector control explain how to protect yourself from bites.
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Zika and West Nile viruses are both transmitted by mosquitoes. Officials from public health and from Sacramento-Yolo vector control explain how to protect yourself from bites.

The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District is offering free mosquito repellent to community groups planning outdoor activities for the National Night Out on Tuesday. All you have to do is schedule pickup.

Mosquitoes carry the deadly West Nile virus and can transmit it to birds, humans and other mammals when they bite them. The district reported that, in Sacramento County, seven dead birds and 11 mosquito samples have tested positive for the deadly West Nile virus this year. Placer County also reported a positive mosquito sample, but neither El Dorado nor Yolo counties has found evidence of activity this year.

“We know many people will be outside for this event, and we want to remind the public that personal protection against mosquitoes is critical in the prevention of West Nile virus,” said District Manager Gary Goodman. “We encourage everyone to take advantage of the free repellent we are offering as part of our public outreach program.”

West Nile can cause overwhelming fatigue, terrible muscle aches and headaches, according to doctors, and those who survive severe cases of the illness report ongoing problems with fatigue and neurological problems. Those who have the toughest time fending off the illness are people aged 65 or older, physicians say.

West Nile activity has ramped up in Sacramento County since the district reported finding evidence of the virus in early July. Two dead birds were found in both Elk Grove and Herald, and one was found in Carmichael, Elverta and Sacramento’s Pocket neighborhood. The positive mosquito samples were found in Herald, Elk Grove’s Sheldon Heights community, south Sacramento and near Diablo Park in Sacramento County.

The California Department of Public Health notes that four human cases of West Nile virus have been reported statewide, one each in Fresno, Imperial, San Bernardino and Stanislaus counties. No deaths were reported as of Friday.

Statewide, 34 birds and 1,094 mosquito samples have so far tested positive for the virus. Last year, the deaths of 11 people were caused by West Nile virus, and it was detected in 217 people, 501 birds and 1,963 mosquito samples.

While West Nile activity has been low in the Sacramento area this year, district officials said, the heat wave over the next five days could speed up reproduction. Luz Robles, the district’s public information officer, said that mosquitoes complete their life cycles faster in warm temperatures, going from larvae to adult mosquitoes in as little as four to seven days.

To cut down on the number of mosquitoes, the district urged residents to drain any stagnant water near their homes and report any unattended swimming pools. The district also will send out technicians to help find the source of unusually high mosquito activity and help with abatement.

Experts suggest wearing clothes that cover the arms and legs, especially at dusk or when near stagnant water. At home, look for holes in screens or windows that allow pests to get indoors. When using mosquito repellent, district officials said, residents should be mindful that they may need to apply more over the course of an evening.

“Repellent comes in a variety of forms including lotion, spray and towelettes,” Goodman said. “Find one that you like and use it to ensure you are not bitten by mosquitoes.”

Interested in getting free repellent? Contact Robles at to schedule a pickup time at the Elk Grove and Woodland offices from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Cathie Anderson covers health care for The Bee. Growing up, her blue-collar parents paid out of pocket for care. She joined The Bee in 2002, with roles including business columnist and features editor. She previously worked at papers including the Dallas Morning News, Detroit News and Austin American-Statesman.