West Nile Virus Found in Mosquitos Trapped in Inyo County
The Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement Program (OVMAP) confirmed today that mosquito samples caught during trapping operations early this week tested positive for West Nile Virus. This is the first occurrence of West Nile Virus in Inyo County since 2019. Prior to that, West Nile Virus had been detected in the Owens Valley for several years since first being discovered in our area in 2004. During that time, no human infections were reported, but three horses died after being infected with West Nile Virus.
“For every 100 people who are bitten by a West Nile Virus-carrying mosquito, only 20 are at risk of developing symptoms, and of those, fewer than 1% are likely to experience life-threatening reactions” said Inyo County Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson. Nevertheless, the public is urged to take precautions discussed below:
- Using mosquito repellent. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, or IR3535. Some oil of Lemon eucalyptus and Para-Menthane-Diol products provide similar protection.
- Avoiding outdoor activities if possible during dawn and dusk. This is especially important during the first two hours following sunset, when species that spread West Nile Virus are actively biting.
- Wearing long sleeves and pants. This provides additional protection when used in conjunction with insect repellent.
Likewise, while horses are more at risk for contracting the disease, vaccines are available and horse owners are urged to get their horses vaccinated. For more information, please contact your veterinarian.
According to OVMAP Manager Rob Miller, “the positive samples were collected northeast of Bishop near the airport, in the same trap location that St. Louis Encephalitis was found two weeks prior.” This area will be heavily treated with an adulticide application following trapping activities due to high adult mosquito populations in the area. According to Agricultural Commissioner Nate Reade, “crews will continue to aggressively treat this area until trap results show diminished population levels, and we will continue to submit samples for testing until the weather cools.”
About 20% of those who are bit by an infected mosquito will experience flu-like symptoms that last a few days and resolve on their own. Over-the-counter pain medications can help reduce fever and relieve some of the symptoms. About 1 out of every 150 people who contract West Nile Virus will develop more serious neurologic illness. If you develop symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to seek medical attention if they develop symptoms commonly associated with WNV.
To find more information on West Nile Virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control WNV page at https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html, or the California West Nile Virus website at http://www.westnile.ca.gov/.
Please report mosquito problems to the Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement Program by calling: (760) 873-7853.