The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced today that a 76-year-old man contracted WNV, but "he did not acquire the virus locally."
The HHSA, along with other agencies, is urging folks to avoid outdoor activity at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are the most active. If you must be outside at that time, they say, use an insect repellent with DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3534.
It goes without saying that if you're camping, don't sleep outside unprotected.
Among the other good tips:
- Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors
- Make sure your windows and doors have tight-fitting screens without holes or tears
- Check your property weekly to eliminate any standing water sources, where mosquitoes can breed.
- Keep your eye on any foreclosed homes in the neighborhood to ensure that swimming pools do not go unattended and containers do not contain water.
Meanwhile, the ground-breaking research (Aug. 18, 2008) of UC Davis chemical ecologists Walter Leal and Zain Syed on why mosquitoes avoid DEET continues to draw attention. It's one of the most downloaded and cited articles from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Be careful out there.
We're in a recession, but the mosquitoes aren't.
The mortgage meltdown and the resulting green swimming pools are perfect breeding sites for mosquitoes, which can transmit the deadly West Nile virus (WNV). So far this year WNV has sickened 411 Californians, killing 13.
Research just published by UC Davis research entomologist William Reisen and colleagues from Kern County should be required reading. Titled "Delinquent Mortgages, Neglected Swimming Pools and West Nile Virus, California" and published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, it relates that in 2007, the mortgage crisis caused a 300 percent increase in notices of delinquency in Kern County.
"This led to large numbers of neglected swimming pools, which were associated with a 276 percent increase in the number of human West Nile virus cases during the summer of 2007," the authors wrote.
They concluded "These new larval habitats may have contributed to the unexpected early season increase in WNV cases in Bakersfield during 2007 and subsequently have enabled invasion of urban areas by the highly competent rural vector Culex. tarsalis."
If you check out the California WNV Web site, you'll notice that Kern County tallied 140 of the statewide 380 human cases in 2007. (The second highest WNV-afflicted county was Los Angeles with 36.) Total WNV-related fatatlies in 2007 in California: 21.
Bottom line: unmaintained swimming pools are turning into algae-clogged ponds. It's a public health issue that taxes the mosquito and vector control districts and threatens the health and welfare of the community.
What this means is: We are our brother's keeper. We are our sister's keeper. We are our neighbor's keeper. NIMBYS (Not in My Backyard) need to be replaced by YIMBY (Yes, in My Backyard) and YLGI (Yes, Let's Get Involved).
The tiny female insect that needs a blood meal to develop her eggs is going green and we're seeing red.
What's medical entomolology?
Anyone who's an entomologist or who works in entomology is asked that question periodically. Medical, they know. Entomology? Often not. But medical entomology?
Well, it's the study of relationships among arthorpods, microbial pathogens and human health, according to medical entomologist Thomas Scott, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
Scott teaches courses on medical entomology. His next one: the 2009 winter quarter, Jan. 5 through March 16.
Worldwide, Scott says, arthropod-borne diseases have devastating effects on human health; they are a leading cause of human morbidity and mortality.
In his course, he explains the basic biology of medically important arthropods and the pathogens they transmit. The diseases include malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile virus, Lyme disease and River Blindness.
Scott, a noted mosquito-borne disease expert and newly elected fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (for "distinguished contributions to the biology and ecology of mosquitoes and his leadership in developing strategic concepts for preventing dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases”) does research from his mosquito research laboratory at UC Davis and at field stations in Peru, Thailand and Mexico.
In January, Scott hosted the 42nd annual U.S.-Japan Parasitic Disease Conference on the UC Davis campus. Some 100 scientists from throughout the world participated in the three-day conference "to develop a cross-cutting perspective on what the priorities should be for the future research on arthropod vectors of disease," he explained.
With new and emerging diseases, increasing national and international travel, settlement in endemic areas, and the proliferation of commerce, we can expect disease from vector-borne pathogens to increase, Scott says.
It's obvious what we need less of (diseases) and what we need more of (medical entomologists).