Orange County health officials are looking to prevent West Nile virus with pesticide sprays and mosquito traps that use carbon dioxide to mimic human breath and lure in potentially-infected mosquitos. Vikki Vargas reports for the NBC4 News on Sept. 10, 2012.
There have been seven recorded cases of West Nile Virus in Orange County and health officials are concerned those numbers could increase if the weather stays hot and humid, conditions that are favorable for mosquitos that carry the virus.
A dead crow found in OC will be tested for West Nile Virus, and vector control officials say if it tests positive, it will confirm that the cycle of the disease is underway in the county.
The virus – which has sicked nearly 2,000 Americans so far this year – is transmitted when mosquitoes bite infected birds and then bite people.
Seventy traps have been set up in Orange County to ensnare potentially-infected mosquitos using carbon dioxide to mimic human breath. So far, they have caught fewer mosquitoes than normal.
Still, more of those that are caught are infected with West Nile virus.
“We liked it better a month ago when the trap counts were down and infections were not as high but with this hot weather and humidity that’s what West Nile likes,” said Michael Hearst with OC Vector Control.
The county is targeting areas known for mosquito breeding by spraying marshlands and golf courses three times a week. They say prevention is critical.
According to county health officials there have been seven reported cases, two of which were found through blood donations.
Symptoms of West Nile virus usually develop between three to 14 days after being bitten and can include fever, headache, neck stiffness, body aches and nausea, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In more severe cases, stupor, disorientation, muscle weakness and vision loss.
“You can see changes in levels of consciousness. People have problems with arm or leg movements. People can have really severe headaches. Any and all of these problems can relate to West Nile disease,” said Dr. Matt Zahn of the Orange County Health Care Agency.
About 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms, according to the CDC.
Martin Serbin is an outdoor enthusiast, and is well aware he should avoid walks at dawn and at dusk. He also knows how to keep mosquitoes at bay at his Fullerton home.
“Make sure no puddles or standing water that’s the main thing,” Serbin said, echoing tips lauded by the CDC.
Dr. Eric Handler with the County Health Office says health officials should see a decrease in West Nile virus activity as the temperatures cool, but continued to urge taking precautions against possible infection.
Here are some West Nile prevention tips:
More information on mosquito control is available on the Orange County Vector Control District’s website.