The Colusa County Department of Public Health confirmed its first case of West Nile Virus in Colusa County for 2016. The adult patient, currently recovering at home, is said to have suffered the more severe neuroinvasive form of the illness that causes meningitis.
“Most people (70-80%) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as a headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash,” Health Officer, Gregory Burt MD stated in a press release, “Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop serious illness.”
With current Health Privacy Protection Acts, the patient was only said to have resided outside the Colusa Mosquito Abatement District. Colusa County reported two cases of West Nile Virus infections in 2015, and three in 2014.
“This does serve as a reminder that residents should take simple precautions to avoid exposure to mosquitos,” Burt stated.
The Colusa County Department of Public Health recommends the 4 “D”s to prevent mosquito bites.
1. DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. DEET can be used safely on infants and children two months of age and older.
2. DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and evening, so it is important to wear proper clothing and use repellent if outside during these times.
3. DOORS AND WINDOWS – Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and are free of tears or holes, to keep out mosquitoes.
3. DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate or drain sources of standing water such as flower pots, old car tires, bird baths, pet bowls and buckets. Report swimming pools that are not being properly maintained.
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Colusa Mosquito Abatement District
The Colusa Mosquito Abatement District was established in 1958 to serve the community of Colusa and surrounding areas.
With a current staff of six – three full-time employees and three part-time employees the district services over 160 square miles.
“When the district was being formed, it was intended to be county-wide; however, the assessor at that time suggested to go by the old Colusa Unified School District Boundaries,” said David Whitesell, manager of the Colusa Mosquito Abatement District.
The district services 120 square miles within Colusa County and 20 square miles in Sutter County.
“The Sutter County area was annexed into the district in the late 1960’s, because of the Butte Sink Wildlife and Duck Clubs impacting the Colusa District,” said Whitesell.
Whitesell added that when the Butte Sink Wildlife area begins flooding the area for the ducks those mosquitoes impact the Community of Colusa.
“About the third week of August; that area will go under water in about two weeks. We will then begin flying that area for control,” said Whitesell. “The mosquitoes within this field will get up and move into the Colusa area.”
To help manage and abate the mosquito population, the district utilizes ground and air control programs. Spraying on Mondays and Thursdays within in the City of Colusa and outlying areas. Then on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s the remaining outlining areas within the district boundaries are sprayed. Spray times are general between the hours of 8 PM and midnight. “We begin spraying in June and run through the first week of November,” said Whitesell.
“When we spray, we are first hitting the town and outlying area, working our way out to the edge of the district creating a boundary,” said Whitesell. “It’s proven to be effective.”
Whitesell commented that he was proud of his district as they are one to model.
“We manufacture all of its spray equipment, and we complete all of our vehicle maintenance saving the district taxpayers thousands of dollars,” said Whitesell. “A new electric spray rig and be purchased at $13,000, our staff can manufacture one for about $3,500.”
“We monitor the mosquito population once a week on Tuesday’s with our light traps to monitor the number of mosquitoes and species,” said Whitesell.
Additionally, Whitesell commented that they utilize Sentinel Chickens that are tested every two weeks where they are tested for encephalitis and West Nile Virus. Recently Whitesell announced that five of the ten sentinel chickens that are part of the Colusa Mosquito Abatement District monitoring program recently tested positive for the virus.
“This time of year is tough because they are draining the rice fields,” said Whitesell. “The mosquitoes usually found in rice fields are Anopheles Freeborni which doesn’t carry the West Nile virus, but could carry malaria.”
With the drought, Whitesell commented that conditions are a perfect storm for West Nile virus.
“As a state, with the last three or four years with the drought, we have seen higher numbers of West Nile Virus activity because everything is more concentrated. You have the birds, water, and mosquitoes living within proximity due to the drought causing higher exposure levels,” said Whitesell.
The District – The County
While some residents outside the district feel the need to fight the bite, Whitesell commented that those wishing to be annexed into the district should contact their County Supervisor.
“In 2008, County Health Board came to the District and asked for an expansion of the district,” said Whitesell.
However, property owners in Williams, Maxwell, Arbuckle, Grimes and surrounding farming areas voted down the measure 51 to 49 percent. At that time the tax collected would’ve amounted to $69 annually from the owner of a single-family home, and 58¢ for each acre of farmland.
In June of 2015, the Williams City Council discussed contracting with the Mosquito Abatement District for a limited air spray and the vote passed 3-2. In May 2016, Whitesell stated during a City Council meeting that after the initial spray and monitoring the City of Williams did not have a mosquito problem in comparison to Colusa. The council approved, with a vote 3-2, to renew the eleven treatments at the cost of $37,946 from the cities general fund. <