One on One with Jared Dever

0
4161

Steps for Homeowners to Halt the Spread of West Nile VirusJared Dever Dir Comm[1]

By Gina Dostler

The Orange County Vector District issued a health advisory warning last week about a high level of West Nile virus infections countywide. Spokesman Jared Dever offers some recommendations for protection and why the outbreak is occurring.

Q: How do you know West Nile virus is prevalent this year?

A: We sample with mosquito traps, and from those collected mosquitoes we test for West Nile virus. Though the mosquito count has been low this year, we have had sites in OC where up to 80% of the mosquitoes tested positive for the virus. The normal rate is around 50-65%. Last year we were around 10-20%, a relatively low average. But we find these periods actually oscillate up and down. Yet we have no definite answer to what creates these patterns. We do know some environmental factors occur and contribute to the influx of the virus.

Q: Which are?

A: Bird immunity is a key factor. New birds have not yet developed the antibodies to the virus and the mosquitoes feed off these birds. When birds that have developed the antibodies eventually die off due to a normal life span, they are replaced by these new birds being infected. So during the high oscillation periods, it is common to find dead birds in the street, usually magpies or crows. Since 1999 scientists have been trying to figure out the ecological, biological or sociological events that might trigger the population of infected mosquitoes to rise and fall in a periodic rate. It really is still a mystery.

Q: What recommendations do you advise for protection?

A: It’s important to dump any standing water, pet water bowls left out for days, saucers, potted plants. Even just a bottle cap of water is enough for the eggs to hatch. If a pond pump is broken and the water isn’t circulating, fix it or drain the water. Over watering lawns can create moist wet pockets where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. Washing cars in the driveway leaves a lot of standing water and is a waste of our precious water. Repair windows and door screens and don’t leave any doors open. The southern house mosquito prefers to fly indoors, hang out on the ceiling and hide, then feed on you at night while you are sleeping.

Q: How is it that mosquitoes might bite one person and not another?

A: Mosquitoes are attracted to C02. We put dry ice in buckets with fans that blow the rising C02 from the ice and capture the mosquitoes in nets that way. In the case of people, it might be that some people exhale more of it than others. But mosquitoes also like specific body chemistry. They have an antenna that’s packed with an array of different detection sensors. For instance, one sensor specifically zeroes in on body temperature, while others seek out pH levels and various smells that shout in mosquito language you are the perfect candidate for a snack or two. Studies have shown that mosquitoes are attracted to limburger cheese, which smells similar to stinky feet and mosquitoes love it, both the stinky feet and the cheese.

Q: Is it obvious if I’ve been infected with the virus?

A: Actually it is quite difficult to diagnose. In the early stages of infection it feels like the common cold. High fever, body aches and chills. A certain percentage of people will have a mid-trunk rash, yet that still does not mean it’s the virus. But if these symptoms persist after a couple of days, this should be a trigger to seek out professional health care. As it gets more advanced, inflammation of the brain occurs when the body cannot fight it off. You can’t stand up properly when severe cognitive issues happen and from there it can progress from coma to death. You can visit www.ochealthinfo.com for more information on the virus.

Q: At least the mosquito count is low.

A: Yes, that’s because of the amazing cooperation with the city to clean storm drains and bring awareness through public education. And we constantly have people out in the field to find breeding sources. But if you see any standing water, maybe due to a broken pump such as a pool, bird bath or koi pond, call vector control. We provide service to resolve the problem free of charge. Funding comes to us from property taxes. So use us, we are here for you.

 

Jared Dever, communications director

Orange County Vector Control District

13001 Garden Grove Blvd.

Garden Grove, CA 92843

714- 971-2421

www.ocvcd.org

jdever@ocvcd.org

 

Mosquito Larva
Mosquito larva living in a small pool of water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just one bottle cap of water can serve as a breeding ground for mosquito larvae.
Just one bottle cap of water can serve as a breeding ground for mosquito larvae.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adult Female Mosquito
An adult female mosquito.