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West Nile virus poses special September threat | News

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West Nile virus poses special September threat
West Nile virus poses special September threat

SACRAMENTO - The West Nile virus continues to be a problem throughout California with more than twice the number of human cases compared to same time last year.

All month, public health officials have focused on preventive spraying across the region to combat the West Nile virus. One recent target was Oki Park, near Rosemont. That was good news for those gathered at the park Saturday afternoon, especially for Lyn Piegaro who was diagnosed with West Nile virus several years ago.

"It's debilitating. It's very hard, and I'm guessing for the kids and older people it's even worse, which is why I'm very happy that they spray," Piegaro said.

The website FIGHTtheBITE.net shows recently sprayed areas like the section of the American River just north of Oki Park.

"It's nice to know that people can look online and see where has been sprayed and where it's safe to take your kids," said Anyssa Lumbert, who brought her kids to the river Saturday.

Sacramento County alone has seen four confirmed human cases this year, including one death. Public health experts said they typically see the number of human cases increase in September.

In addition to learning what areas have been sprayed, you should try to remove any standing water around your home. One of the best things you can do is use a mosquito repellant, especially if you're near water, and especially at dusk.

So what's behind the doubling of human cases in California this year?

It may seem counter intuitive, but it turns out that the drought has actually helped mosquitoes transmit the virus. A West Nile virus researcher at UC Davis said people might think mosquitoes would require more rainfall not less to thrive, but California's dry conditions have drawn mosquitoes to urban areas.

"You also get more mosquitoes when there's less water because you don't get those underwater storm drains, catch basins flushed out frequently, so the mosquitoes have drainage from irrigation for lawns and other purposes that create really nice habitat underground that doesn't get washed away frequently," Center for Vectorborne Diseases Dr. Chris Barker said.

Hot temperatures have also played a role, and experts said this is the time of year when temperatures are typically ideal for mosquitoes.