By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
West Nile Virus threat grows with rising temperatures
• One in five people infected with WMV will develop fever, aches & vomiting
mosquito 2022
Mosquitos are the chief culprit in spreading West Nile Virus.

If you’re not already dousing yourself in bug spray when you go outside, then the time to start is now, as local officials expect to see a rise in the mosquito activity and with it, more cases of West Nile Virus (WNV).

The relatively pleasant spring temperatures enjoyed over the last couple of months have kept the voracious blood-suckers at bay, but with the rising temperatures, the mosquito cycle speeds up, meaning they will be out looking for arms, legs, and any other body parts they can land on with stealth and take a bite.

“We’ve had a pretty mild season so far, but as the temperatures warm up, the mosquito population will amplify and with it, there will be more West Nile Virus activity,” said Monica Patterson, a vector biologist with the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District which covers Ceres and Keyes.

If the mosquito bites only caused itchiness and irritation, local officials wouldn’t be sounding the alarm bell. But for this region, West Nile Virus is endemic and the mosquitos are the number one culprit for transmitting the virus.

Mosquitoes become infected with WNV when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread West Nile Virus to humans and other animals when they bite, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Approximately one in five people who are infected with WNV will develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Less than one percent will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). About 10 percent of people who develop neurologic infection due to WNV will die, according to the CDC. People over 50 years of age and those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and organ transplants, are at greater risk for serious illness.

There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection. People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks or months. In the neuroinvasive forms, patients can suffer severe and sometimes long-term symptoms.

Mosquitoes like to breed in stagnant water, preferring weedy areas that provide cover. The lagoons at dairy farms make for perfect breeding grounds, but so do flooded fields, uncared for swimming pools, urban catch basins, overwatered lawns, and pretty much anything that holds water and allows it to stagnate.

It’s not just the transmission of WNV that has the area’s mosquito districts concerned. The mosquito breed responsible for transmitting yellow fever and the Zika virus has previously been detected in Stanislaus County. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are invasive for the region, are capable of transmitting viruses such as chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika. While the Aedes aegypti mosquito has the potential to transmit deadly viruses, none of these viruses are currently known to be transmitted locally in California.

In contrast to the native amber-colored Culex mosquitoes, whose peak biting times are dawn and dusk, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are black and white, bite aggressively during the day, and feed almost exclusively on humans. Additionally, the larvae of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes require much less water. Females lay their eggs just above the water line in small containers and vessels that hold water, such as dishes, potted plants, bird baths, ornamental fountains, tin cans, or discarded tires. The eggs can survive for up to eight months after the water dries out.

As of now, there hasn’t been any WNV detected in Stanislaus County, but there has been in Merced County. On June 21, the Merced County Mosquito Abatement District announced that a mosquito pooled sample collected in Merced, has tested positive for WNV. As of June 17, WNV has been detected in 11 California counties with activity confirmed in 10 dead birds and 56 mosquito pooled samples.

“This positive detection is from a mosquito pooled sample, and we have had no positive WNV cases in Merced County thus far. However, citizens should still be concerned as more detections will likely ensue in the following weeks,” says Rhiannon Jones General Manager of Merced County Mosquito Abatement District. “It is important to reduce mosquito breeding on their properties to eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed. It will help dramatically reduce mosquitoes in our community.”

The districts will continue with their treatment and surveillance programs by identifying mosquito breeding sources and mosquito borne disease activity. They will perform treatments according to their surveillance results. The districts remind residents how they can help by taking the following precautions:

• Dump or drain standing water. These are places mosquitoes like to lay their eggs.

• Defend yourself against mosquitoes by using repellants containing DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.

• Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn. These are the times when WNV carrying mosquitoes are generally most active.

 •Report neglected swimming pools to your local mosquito abatement district.

• Use tight fitting door and window screens to keep mosquitoes from entering your home.

• Contact your veterinarian for information on vaccinating equine against WNV.

For additional information or to request service, Turlock residents should contact the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District at (209) 634-1234 or (

Reporting and testing of dead birds are important steps in preventing West Nile Virus. A confirmed case of the virus in dead birds or mosquito samples helps to identify areas that need treatment to reduce mosquito activity. To report a dead bird, call the California State hotline at 1-877-WNV-BIRD or report it online at Birds of particular interest are crows, ravens, magpies, jays and raptors (hawk or eagle).