Health & Safety

September 7, 2012

You, West Nile Virus and mosquitoes

by Nancy J. Driscoll
452 Bioenvironmental public health flight

In response to a recent surge of West Nile Virus, an illness transferred to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, Nancy Driscoll arranged a fact sheet to assist with answering questions that may be of concern to the Team March population. The upcoming Operational Readiness Exercise will be conducted in Gulfport, Miss., so it is imperative that all March members raise their awareness and take the proper precautionary measures now  to protect themselves and their families and their fellow Air Force Warriors during the ORE deployment.

What is West Nile Virus (WNV)?

West Nile Virus is an avian (bird) virus which can be transmitted from infected birds to humans and other animals, especially horses, by the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito acquires the virus when it bites a bird with WNV in its blood. Once the mosquito is infected with the WNV, it then transmits the virus when feeding on people or animals. Only certain species of mosquitoes can carry WNV and very few mosquitoes are actually infected with the West Nile virus. West Nile virus has been in the United States since 1999.

What is the risk of getting West Nile Virus?

From its introduction into the U.S. in 1999, West Nile virus progressively spread from the East to the West, North and South so that by 2004 all states in continental U.S. had bird populations infected with WNV. The risk of exposure to a infected mosquito is low! The more time you spend outdoors, for work and or play, especially in the early morning (dawn) or early evening (dusk), the more your risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes will increase. Dawn and dusk are the times mosquitoes are most active in their feeding.

What prevention and control measures are effective in eliminating or mitigating your exposure?

Eliminate standing water. Still, stagnant water is required for the larvae phase of the mosquito breeding/life cycle. Ponds, bird baths, fountains without running water, buckets, old tires, over watering puddles lasting 2-3 days, swimming pools not in use (empty houses) are all potential breeding sites for mosquitoes. Empty the water, remove the receptacle, change water in birdbaths and non-flowing fountains every 2 days, turn pails, buckets, wheel barrels upside down or move to undercover storage. Don’t forget to empty the little tots’ wadding and swimming pools. Keep watering to a minimum. A little water twice a day is better than a lot of water all at one time!

Outdoor activities. Minimize time outside at dawn & dusk and when possible use screened areas; wear light long sleeved shirts/blouses and long pants; apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions.

CAUTION: read all labels prior to use. Do not exceed recommended application amounts and or frequency to avoid overuse and minor skin reactions.

Protect your living, work and play areas. Ensure your doors and windows have intact weather stripping; make sure door and window screens are tight fitting and do not have holes or tears and if they do, repair or replace them. Keep doors closed, especially early morning and dusk, sunset! Screen doors only work if closed. If windows are not screened, keep them closed.

Report large populations of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are ever present in our local Inland Empire communities … BUT NOT in large “swarming” numbers. If you see lots of mosquitoes, in your home or work areas, report it to your local mosquito and vector control agency.

March ARB agencies with vector control responsibilities are: 452 Bioenvironmental/Public Health Flight, CES(BOS) Environmental Management Flight and Satellite Services, Inc.

Bio/Public Health, in conjunction with the 452 CES(BOS)/QAE for the Grounds Maintenance Service Contract are working together to identify and eliminate or mitigate any standing water issues on or around March ARB.

To report standing water locations of two or more days, call 951-655-7156/ 3921/5068.

If you know/believe it is a grounds overwatering problem or a leaking/broken sprinkler head/pipe problem, please call our Grounds Maintenance QAE, Dave Alexander at 951- 655- 5983.

Riverside County has three Mosquito and Vector Control Districts within its borders.

  • Coachella Valley MVCD (Banning Pass to Chiriaco Summit) at 760-342-8287, http://cvmvcd.org
  • Department of Environmental Health Services – Vector Control Program (east of Chiriaco Summit to Colorado River (Except for the city of Blythe) at 888-722-4234, http://www.rivcoeh.org
  • Northwest MVCD (Prado Basin and along the Santa Ana River and Cities of Lake Elsinore, Corona and Norco) at 951-340-9792, http://northwestmosquitovector.org

If you are not sure which district/office serves your home area, call Riverside County VCD at 951-766-9454.

What are the symptoms of a West Nile Virus Infection?

If you have been bitten by mosquitoes and begin to have any of the following symptoms, you should contact your personal physician to get a medical evaluation. The usual incubation period (time from bite and symptoms begin) for WNV infection is 5 to 15 days. Eighty percent of people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. Approximately twenty percent will have mild symptoms including: fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, body aches and sometimes swollen lymph nodes or a mild skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.

These symptoms may last a few days or in rare cases several weeks. Less than one percent, usually associated with those 55 years of age and older, may get a more severe form of the illness with high fever, headaches, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, numbness and paralysis. Fatalities from WNV are usually associated with this neuroinvasive form of illness.




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