BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Even with the hot and dry weather, mosquitos can still breed in the smallest amounts of stagnant water and spread diseases. The West Nile Virus is one of them.
So far, two human cases have been confirmed in the county which is lower than the seasonal average number of cases.
The West Nile Virus carried by the Culex mosquito has a viral season every year in Kern County. Right now, the Kern Mosquito and Vector Control District says the West Nile Virus season is at its peak and will probably last until October.
Terry Knight with Kern Mosquito and Vector Control District says last year, only 8 cases of the virus were reported, but that could have been reported lower because of labs being backlogged with COVID tests. Also, out of the two human cases this year, only one person was symptomatic for the virus and the other was asymptomatic. Besides the Culex mosquitoes, the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes are also very prevalent in Kern County.
“I would say about 25 would be a good number, a good average for Kern County or our district. But right now we only have two, so that’s outstanding. Also, see, and if eight was a true number last year, I want to say this is why because of Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, a lot more people have gotten on board and they’re using insect repellent that weren’t in the past.”
These mosquitoes mainly breed in residential areas in just enough stagnant water. But there are things you can do to make sure your home doesn’t become a breeding ground.
“A tablespoon of water can and will breed Aedes Aegypti mosquitos if the water is there for more than 7 days,” explained Knight.
Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes can spread different diseases like Dengue and are commonly called “yellow fever mosquitos.” But it does not carry the West Nile Virus. Only the Culex mosquito carries that. Aedes Aegypti is a residential species and tries to look for containers to breed in.
Make sure water doesn’t collect around your home, especially in potted plants, because the standing water and organic matter are enough to breed mosquitoes.
“It’s not big. It does not have to be big but if this water saucer, as I said, holds water for more than seven days, it can and will breed Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes," says Knight. "The solution to this item right here is either get rid of the saucer altogether and water your plant twice a week instead of once a week, or take a scouring pad like I have in my hand right here, scrub the outer edge of the water saucer, scrub the outer edge of the bottom of the pot and this needs to be done weekly and that needs to be done in other to kill the eggs that are attached to the surface of both of these items."
Knight says another way to get rid of mosquito larvae is by introducing mosquito fish in the water body.
“These are one of the most valuable assets that we have here Kern Mosquito and Vector Control. One, they are a biological tool, and two, they work seven days a week and each one of these can eat anywhere between 80-100 mosquito larvae each day.”
Kern Mosquito can give these fish to anyone who needs them, for free. They also do aerial surveillance every few weeks to find green and unmaintained swimming pools because those are huge breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
To protect yourself, officials say you should use an EPA-registered insect repellent that has at least 25-percent active ingredients.
“The active ingredients that I recommend are DEET, picaridin, IR-3535, and also oil of lemon-eucalyptus.”
Although there are natural options, Knight recommends using the repellents for higher efficacy.
“If it were up to me, I’d use one of these products because I’ve been around the mosquitoes. I know how aggressive they are. I know these work and I don’t like being bit by these Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes because the bites are extremely itchy.”
According to the California Department of Public Health, since 2003 the state of California has had more than 7,000 West Nile Virus human cases and 300 deaths since 2003. This year, Kern County has seen one human case, 55 mosquito samples, and no cases in dead birds, sentinel chickens, and horses.
While Kern hasn't had much activity this year, the state of California has detected the virus in 985 cases in mosquito samples, 15 human cases, 121 dead birds, 30 sentinel chickens, and 2 horses.