Despite efforts to spray infected mosquitos from the air earlier this summer, local officials continue to find infected samples of West Nile virus throughout Sacramento County.
According to the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District, 161 dead birds and 124 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile in Sacramento County. District spokesperson Luz Rodriguez said that's a significant increase over last year's numbers from the same time period.
In a press release, officials said they may have to conduct aerial spraying if infection rates stay high. The district has already used airplanes to spray parts of southern Sacramento County, including Rosemont, earlier this summer.
“We are continuing to see significant West Nile virus activity,” said David Brown, manager for the mosquito district. “We need to act rapidly in order to reduce infected mosquito populations and protect public health."
The aerial spraying has been controversial in the past. In 2005, activists in Davis forced city councilmembers to leave a public meeting that turned rancorous over the issue. Since then, protests have been fewer even though aerial spraying has continued.
According to the Huffington Post, district officials didn't tell residents to take precaution earlier this summer because they believe the pesticides were safe. The Post also reported district officials are using a new chemical for the first time.
Dibrom, also known as Naled, is an organophosphate deemed safe for aerial spraying by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but is not recommended for ground use. According to the EPA, high doses of the chemical can affect the nervous system, causing "nausea, dizziness, confusion, and at very high exposures (e.g., accidents or major spills), respiratory paralysis and death."
In the Post story, a local activist was furious about the district's failure to warn residents about the new pesticide.
"We are the experiment," said Kim Glazzard, director of the nonprofit Organic Sacramento. "We don't want to be experiments anymore."
In the district's press release, officials say they need cooperation from the public to drain any stagnant water from their property and protect themselves from bites by using a mosquito repellent is critical.
The areas where the majority of activity is concentrated include portions of Sacramento County south of the American River down to the Elk Grove area. "Our bird populations continue to have high infection rates and they are infecting the mosquitoes allowing for the virus to amplify," stated Brown.
While most of the activity is currently concentrated in Sacramento County, the virus has also been detected in areas of Yolo County, including West Sacramento and Davis.
For a location of the areas being considered for aerial applications, please refer to the attached map and visit www.FIGHTtheBITE.net . Please note that the area can be modified based on ongoing surveillance results. Residents can also subscribe to receive email notifications for mosquito treatments by zip code. Information for current treatments planned is also available on the District website under Spraying Updates.
2012 West Nile virus activity update:
- Yolo County: 8 dead birds, 0 sentinel chicken, 4 mosquito sample have tested positive for West Nile virus to date
- Sacramento County: 161 dead birds, 0 sentinel chickens, 124 mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus to date.