Health & Medicine

Davis at heart of escalating West Nile activity in Sacramento and Yolo counties, officials say

Here’s how West Nile is spread — and what symptoms to look for after a mosquito bite

West Nile Virus can be deadly — but only one in five people who are infected by a mosquito bite will develop any symptoms, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Here's what to look for.
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West Nile Virus can be deadly — but only one in five people who are infected by a mosquito bite will develop any symptoms, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Here's what to look for.

The city of Davis in Yolo County was the heart of an intensifying wave of West-Nile-infected mosquitoes this week. Officials say the virus has been escalating in Sacramento and Yolo counties due to August’s heat waves.

“Heat accelerates the life cycle of a mosquito and populations can increase very rapidly,” said Gary Goodman, manager of the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District. “For the last couple of weeks, mosquitoes collected from our traps throughout Davis have tested positive and lab results obtained today show that activity is certainly intensifying.”

The district is closely monitoring virus activity in the counties, and officials anticipate that the season is far from over.

Screen Shot 2019-08-28 at 3.23.18 PM.png
Central Valley surveillance map of mosquitoes (pink), sentinel chicken (blue) and dead birds (green) that tested positive as of Aug. 28, 2019. California West Nile Virus Website

This year’s West Nile Virus season began in Sacramento on July 11 and in Yolo on Aug. 7.

So far, the district says it found 48 virus-positive mosquito samples and 26 virus-positive dead birds in Sacramento County. In Yolo, they’ve reported 66 mosquito samples that tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Throughout the state, 2019 has seen 45 confirmed human cases and two fatalities.

“The California Department of Public Health urges all Californians to protect themselves from mosquito bites during West Nile virus season, which extends from now through early fall,“ the department said in a statement.

The department says people should be applying the “Three D’s”:

  1. DEET — Use U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent containing DEET, an oily liquid insect repellent.
  2. Dawn and dusk — Stay indoors during the early morning and evening, when West-Nile-positive mosquitoes bite the most often. If you have to be outdoors, wear proper clothing.
  3. Drain — Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property such as flowerpots, old car tires and buckets; that’s where mosquitoes lay their eggs.

The great majority of humans infected with the virus do not experience symptoms. However, some have been known to suffer fever-related illnesses and, in rare cases, meningitis or encephalitis.

For current information about West Nile activity, visit www.FIGHTtheBITE.net

To report a dead bird, call the California Department of Public Health at 877-968-2473.

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Caroline Ghisolfi, from Stanford University, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee, focusing on breaking news and health care. She grew up in Milan, Italy.
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