Mosquito control program to repeat in 2007, more prevention may mean less sprayi
Lassen County Agriculture Commissioner Ken Smith won another state grant to conduct mosquito abatement in 2007 to control deadly West Nile Virus.
“We’re hopeful that maybe with the larviciding and the mosquito fish, that perhaps Susanville might not warrant (spraying) and it would remain in the outlying areas which are so heavily infested with the West Nile.”
WNV is now a threat all over the country, Smith told the Board of Supervisors at its Dec. 19 meeting, with 270 human cases reported in California last year.
“Some fairly close by, Butte County reported 31, Tehama County 3, Shasta County 4, Modoc County 2 and over in Nevada, it’s not an exact number, but around 15,” Smith said.
The median age of those who contracted WNV was 50.
“Which means half the people who contracted West Nile Virus were over 50 and half were under 50,” he said. “Previously most people assumed that West Nile Virus was a condition that would affect mostly elderly people, but the median age is 50, so, that’s not necessarily so good.”
Lassen County reported positive tests for WNV in 2006 on seven horses, three dead birds and three mosquito samples. When the WNV control program began in the county in 2006, Smith said, his staff was learning the process.
“We were purchasing the equipment and the materials and being trained and so the larviciding program wasn’t as good as it could be,” Smith said. “The mosquito fish program needs to be improved.”
Lassen County will receive $25,000 and Smith will hire a seasonal employee. The board unanimously approved a cooperative agreement with the California Department of Health Services, allowing Smith to receive the money.
“So, we’ll have somebody out almost every day addressing these issues,” he told the board. “Last year, by the time we got to do some of the larviciding, the storm drains in Susanville were dried up.”
During the 2007 mosquito season, Smith and his staff plan to improve the larvicide’s program, buy mosquito fish and “perhaps treat Barry Reservoir and places like that.”
The program the board approved last year will continue. It includes monitoring by trapping larval and adult mosquitoes, larval mosquito control in Susanville and Westwood and spraying for adult mosquitoes throughout the county when conditions warrant or when trapping indicates the presence of target mosquito populations and WNV.
A county crew conducts spraying at dusk or later at night on predetermined dates using the lowest volume of pesticides that still yield effective control and ultra-low volume techniques.
Pyrethrins are used in rural areas and synthetically produced pyrethroids are used in more populated areas.
The mosquito eating minnow fish are used to control larval insects “where they will not impact native fish,” Smith said in May 2006. Spraying is only used as a last resort and requires approval by the supervisors.
In late August 2006, the board gave Smith permission to spray pesticides to kill mosquitoes in an area bounded by Mapes Road on the east and south, Standish Buntingville Road on the south, Highway 395 on the west and Center Road on the North. Smith said spraying would occur in the more populated areas around Standish, Litchfield and some fringe areas of Johnstonville and Janesville.
After trapping a high number of culex tarsalis, the mosquito that carries WNV, Smith’s staff sprayed the safest pesticide pyrethroids at the least toxic, lowest effective rate starting at Leavitt Lake.
They also sprayed in Susanville north of Main Street and east of Ash Street. Smith said his staff couldn’t trap enough mosquitoes in Westwood to send a sample to the state for testing.
Once again, Smith will develop call and shutoff lists for those who wish to be notified before spraying occurs near their homes or wish to request their residence not be sprayed. Call 251-8110 for more information about the call and shutoff lists.
Smith said he will announce areas to be sprayed in the local media at least 24 hours in advance.
To protect themselves from the effects of WNV residents may:
•Drain any standing water near their homes,
•Stay indoors at dusk and dawn,
•Wear long, loose-fitting clothes while outdoors,
•Wear insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon, Eucalyptus, and
•Repair or replace any damaged window or door screens to exclude mosquitoes.
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