Wet spring heightens mosquito concerns | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Wet spring heightens mosquito concerns

Amanda Fehd
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Mosquitos breed in standing water like this off San Bernardino Avenue in Meyers.

Authorities are warning Tahoe residents that an extremely wet spring could bring more mosquitos and an increased threat of West Nile virus.

Meadows remain inundated with snowmelt and rain, while El Dorado County officials are encouraging residents to empty sources of standing water near their homes.

“We do predict this will be a significant year for mosquitos because there is so much water,” said Ginger Huber, head of the county’s environmental management team at Tahoe. “We really need the public’s help.”

The county spends $200,000 a year here on pest control. Crews have been inspecting standing water and treating water sources where they find mosquito larva. Technicians have found the type of mosquito that carries West Nile virus in Tahoe.

Last year, four dead birds were found infected with the virus in Tahoe. No humans here have contracted the disease, although one man became ill with West Nile in Placerville last year.

Huber encouraged residents to wear long sleeves, avoid being outside at dawn and dusk, and apply DEET when planning to be around mosquitos. Reporting dead birds can also help the state document the virus’s spread. The state hotline is (877) WNV-BIRD.

The virus is usually not fatal, but can be.

“Most people infected by West Nile virus have either no symptoms or flu-like symptoms,” said county Health Officer Jason Eberhart-Phillips in a statement. “In a small percentage of cases, West Nile virus infection leads to encephalitis, a serious inflammation of the brain, which can be fatal.”

People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious illness from the virus. There is no vaccine against the virus for humans.

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