Mosquitoes trapped in three locations in south Visalia have been found to be carrying West Nile virus, officials announced Friday.
That is not unusual; the virus has been carried by mosquitoes in the central San Joaquin Valley for years.
But it was confirmation that, as the hot summer approaches and the Memorial Day holiday kicks off outdoor activities, people need to be prepared.
The Delta Vector Control District said that traps are catching more mosquitoes this spring that a year ago, likely because of the wet winter. "Incidents of mosquitoes carrying WNV (West Nile) will continue to rise as temperatures increase," the district said.
Experts advise people to use repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 to keep from being bitten.
-- Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so wear clothing that covers arms, legs and head.
-- Make sure screens fit tightly around doors and windows.
-- Dump out any water left standing in flower pots, old tires, buckets, etc.
While most people do not suffer major problems if they get the virus, it can in rare cases be fatal.
A Kings County man was the first person in California to be infected with West Nile virus this year.
County health officials said tests completed at the state laboratory on April 26 confirmed the infection.
The Health Department did not identify the man, for confidentiality reasons, but said he was middle-aged and that he had not been hospitalized.
Most people who are infected with the virus have no symptoms or mild, flu-like complaints, but in less than 1 percent of those infected the virus causes serious neurological problems and can be fatal. People 50 years of age and older and people with diabetes or high blood pressure have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications.
West Nile affects hundreds of people in California every year. Since Kings County’s first human case in 2005, there have been a total of 66 cases in the county, including four deaths. In 2016, eight people in Kings County were infected. Statewide in 2016 there were 442 cases and 19 deaths. Fresno County had 15 cases, Madera had six and Tulare County 10, including one death.
This year, the wet winter has health officials in the central San Joaquin Valley on alert for West Nile and Zika, two viruses that are spread by mosquitoes. Zika can cause severe birth defects and neurological complications in adults.
It’s a perfect combination of a lot of water and warm weather.
Dr. Milton Teske, Kings County health officer
“We are anticipating a significant increase in the number of (West Nile) cases because of all the rain this year,” said Dr. Milton Teske, health officer for Kings County. “It’s a perfect combination of a lot of water and warm weather.”