West Side Mosquito and Vector Control District sees a sharp increase this year in trapped mosquitos with the virus

Kern County officials are confirming the first reported cases of West Nile Virus in humans in the county this year at the same time local officials say there is an increase in mosquitos carrying the disease.

There are two confirmed cases, the Kern County Department of Public Health announced Tuesday morning, and as many as five more possible cases.
Testing is still underway on the five potential victims of the disease, said Kern County public Health Officer Dr. Claudia Jonah.

The two confirmed cases of West Nile Virus are from Bakersfield, but it is not known where they were infected, DPH spokeswoman Kim Rodriguez said.

No human cases have been reported in the Taft area, but here has been a dramatic increase in the number of mosquitos with the West Nile Virus trapped in the farm fields to the east of town.

Twelve mosquitos taken from traps set by the West Side Mosquito and Vector Control District have tested positive, said Eric Mitchell, office manager.

Eleven came from the agricultural areas on the Maricopa Flats, he said, and one in a field near Buena Vista Lake.

That's a big increase.

"This year the numbers have gone up significantly," Mitchell said. "Normally we have one or two or three cases. It's definitely in the area people need to be aware."

Traps are checked weekly, Mitchell said, and so far none of the traps in populated areas have tested positive.

The disease is carried by mosquitos and human victims are infected by the mosquitos bite, so people are urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Local vector control district's are doing everything they can, the county said, and people need to take steps themselves.

"There must be an understanding that this prevention team has to include the membership of every Kern County individual in consistently using an effective mosquito repellant,' Jonah said. "WNV is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Mosquito-borne illnesses are preventable and residents can do their part to achieve this goal. No one can predict if they will be one of the few to become severely ill from this virus. Therefore, it is imperative to protect ourselves, our children, and the elderly from exposure by preventing mosquito bites and by removing sources for mosquito breeding around our homes."

The DPH encourages people to follow the 3 "D's" of prevention:

•DUSK/DAWN: Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn and the first two hours after sunset. Also make sure that the screens on your doors/windows are properly placed and secure and use protective clothing if going outdoors.

•DEET: Apply insect repellant containing DEET according to label instructions and do not forget to reapply as recommended.

•DRAIN: Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding.

Contact your local mosquito and vector control agency if there is a significant mosquito problem where you live or work. For more information the public can call Kern County Public Health at 661-321-3000 or visit the website at www.kernpublichealth.com.