Thursday, October 06, 2005

Aerial Pesticides Not Used in Solano Due to Low Threat

August 21, 2005

Aerial pesticides not used in Solano due to low threat
By LORA SIMMONS/Times-Herald correspondent

The reality of the West Nile scare hit close to home for Sacramento County residents August 8 when an aerial attack on the mosquito borne virus began throughout the valley area.

But officials in Solano County officials say that the threat of West Nile is so small here that there is no need for an aerial spraying, and the task of finding enough mosquitoes to test has become nearly impossible.

"The mosquito population this year in our county is very small," said Solano County Mosquito Abatement District (SCMAD) manager Joe Blegen. "It is difficult to even obtain the needed number of mosquitoes in one trap to perform West Nile virus testing on groups of mosquitoes."

The efforts of SCMAD have proven to be a big factor in the decrease in area mosquitoes, said public health officer Dr. Ronald W. Chapman. A need for the type of aerial strike that Sacramento County recently implemented does not seem necessary at this time, he said.

In the meantime, SCMAD is fighting the problem at the source.

"Our major emphasis is to proactively eliminate mosquito larvae before they can fully develop into flying mosquitoes," Blegen said. This attack on the eggs has kept the number of adult mosquitoes from increasing, he said.

As SCMAD continues to stunt the growth of the mosquito population, Solano County residents must do their part as well.

"Prevention is still the best defense against West Nile," Chapman said. Dressing in long sleeves and long pants, avoiding the outdoors at dawn and dusk, and applying mosquito repellent that contains DEET are just several types of precautions.

Animals must also be included in this prevention.

"Horse owners who haven't vaccinated their horses should consult a veterinarian immediately to have their horses properly immunized along with booster shots at the correct intervals," Chapman said.

While standing water near any pet area must be eliminated to avoid West Nile, equines were hit especially hard by the virus last year in California. Out of the state's 58 counties, 32 were home to infected horses and nearly half of those horses died, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

Solano County residents also need to continue to report dead birds and make the necessary changes around their homes.

"So far this year in Solano County, we have 21 West Nile positive birds, mostly crows, magpies and jays, from all cities except Dixon, Vallejo and Benicia," Blegen said. "The majority of the birds died recently. Ten of the birds died in Vacaville and seven in Fairfield."

- For additional equine information, call the CDFA's Equine West Nile Information line at (800) 268-7378.

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