There’s been an uptick in cases of West Nile Virus in and around Fullerton, California. While the virus is rare, it can be quite serious.
The increase in West Nile cases has led to a plan to spray several neighborhoods in the Fullerton area for mosquitos.
What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile Virus is a rare virus that can cause unpleasant symptoms. Most people who are infected with West Nile Virus never have symptoms. However, some get a febrile form of the disease that can cause:
- Head ache
- Body ache
- Joint pain
There’s no known antiviral cure for West Nile Virus and symptoms of fatigue and pain can last for several weeks.
About 1 in 150 people who get West Nile Virus develop severe problems of the central nervous system. These may include:
- Encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain)
- Meningitis (an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain)
- High fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, stupor, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, paralysis, and numbness
People over the age of 60, as well as those with diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and kidney disease have an increased risk of developing serious symptoms if they become infected. The same is true of people who have had an organ transplant since their immune systems are suppressed by drugs.
It is very important for anybody who lives in the area to see a doctor if they experience any symptoms that point to an infection with West Nile Virus.
How Do Mosquitos Spread West Nile Virus?
Mosquitos are carriers of West Nile Virus. They are unaffected by it, but they can pick it up by feeding on infected birds.
Once a mosquito has fed on a bird with West Nile Virus, it can spread the infection to a human being via a bite. Most of us accept mosquito bites as part of the risk of being outside in warm weather, but in an area where West Nile Virus is present, it can be dangerous.
Under normal circumstances, Southern California’s dry climate doesn’t provide a good breeding ground for mosquitos. But even small amounts of standing water can give them a place to breed.
Spraying for Mosquitos
During the first week of October 2018, authorities in Fullerton made the decision to spray several neighborhoods to kill mosquitos and protect residents from West Nile Virus.
The Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District (OCMVCD) decided to spray after two people in the county were infected with West Nile Virus. They also collected 29 mosquito samples that pointed to the problem.
The spray authorities are using is something called DeltaGard. It’s a water-based mosquito control product. The OCMVCD allayed residents’ concerns by pointing out that DeltaGard:
- Is not toxic to people
- Is not toxic to pets
- Will not damage paint or finishes on cars or homes
The goal is to eliminate the mosquitos while having a minimal impact on the area’s residents and local wildlife.
Mosquito Elimination at Home
While the DeltaGard spray should take care of the problem, residents can minimize the risk of another mosquito infestation by doing the following:
- Replace any standing water around your home, including pet bowls and wading pools, once a week. Stagnant water can be a breeding ground for mosquitos.
- Placing screens on all windows of your home and repairing them as needed to keep mosquitos out.
Taking these common-sense precautions will make it more difficult for West Nile Virus to spread and keep you and your family safe.
As a part of the Fullerton community, we are extremely concerned with the outcomes of this issue.