The Colusa Mosquito Abatement District is a locally-funded Special District with the sole purpose of protecting Colusa residents from the threat of mosquitoes that cause disease, economic losses, and loss in quality of life. The District was initially established in 1958 by the Colusa County Agricultural Commissioner to combat an intolerable mosquito population causing economic losses to livestock in the pasture lands.
Today, the Colusa Mosquito Abatement District’s public health mission is to conduct environmentally-friendly mosquito surveillance and control operations and prevent mosquito-borne diseases on 140 sq. miles within Colusa and Sutter Counties, including the town of Colusa. The District is not part of the City or County and is governed by an independent Board of Trustees.
Adequate funding is crucially needed for the Colusa Mosquito Abatement District to be able to sustain and improve mosquito control measures that prevent mosquito-borne diseases. With additional funding the District can increase mosquito control activities, continue to fund the West Nile Virus dead bird hotline and other disease surveillance activities, respond to service requests, and initiate invasive mosquito species surveillance. The funds also provide the community with support services to increase mosquito control and disease prevention awareness including the printing of public informational brochures.
The Mosquito Abatement District has operated with the same funding for almost 20 years, as pesticide and other costs have increased significantly. The District has cut staffing to absolute minimal levels, and there are no more cuts to be made without reducing service levels. Without additional funding the District will have to severely cut services including mosquito control “spraying” for special events and other individual service requests. Other services that will be reduced include “fogging” treatments for adult mosquito control, pesticide resistance testing, monitoring for new introductions of (invasive) mosquitoes, and West Nile Virus or other virus testing of mosquitoes.
On August 4th, a special ballot will be mailed to registered voters within the District to decide the continuation and improvement of mosquito control and disease prevention services.
The proposed contribution would be $29.42 per year for residential and improved vacant properties, and $58.84 per year for commercial, industrial, and agricultural properties. Without this increase in funding, the District will be forced to further cut necessary services.
Why are Mosquito Control Programs so important to Public Health Important in California?
Mosquitoes are the world’s most deadly life forms, responsible for approximately 725,000 human deaths per year worldwide. In California’s valley, two mosquito species, theWestern Encephalitis Mosquito (Culex tarsalis) and the Northern House Mosquito (Culex pipiens) dominate as the carriers of West Nile Virus. According to the California Department of Public Health, there were 379 human cases of West Nile Virus related disease in California in 2013. Of those, 241 were classified as the neuroinvasive, the form in which patients suffer from encephalitis, meningitis, or paralysis.
Mosquito abatement districts play a vital role in preventing West Nile Virus in humans. Birds succumb to infection and are therefore used as an early warning system.
Each year the public is urged to report dead birds to the state which coordinates with the Colusa Mosquito Abatement District to collect and send samples to the state’s infectious disease laboratory for testing.
The District also maintains a sentinel chicken flock in order to monitor their blood for the presence of antibodies that indicate West Nile Virus or other virus activity in the area.
To precisely locate virus positive mosquitoes, most abatement districts in California collect and test mosquitoes for West Nile Virus. This warning system allows mosquito control programs to accurately target areas with virus activity to thwart human infections and minimize the amount of pesticides applied. Unfortunately, he Colusa Mosquito Abatement District cannot participate in testing mosquitoes due to current budget constraints.
In addition to the mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus, there is another foe on the horizon. Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries dengue, Chikungunya, and yellow fever viruses has recently invaded the Central Valley and is being found in Madera, Fresno and San Mateo counties.
While there has not been local transmission of these diseases, human cases associated with infection during foreign travel have been documented in California.
In the United States, public health officials are seeing an increase in locally acquired human infections of dengue and the first locally transmitted cases of Chikungunya virus were reported from Florida in July 2014. Mosquito control districts statewide have increased their surveillance efforts to reduce the spread of this mosquito and chances for local transmission of dengue and Chikungunya.
More information about the Mosquito, Vector, and Disease Control Measure can be obtained from the Colusa Mosquito Abatement District at (530) 458-4966.
To report a dead bird or for more information about West Nile virus call the Dead Bird Hotline at 1-800-968-2473 or visit http://www.westnile.ca.gov/