West Nile time has landed | SierraSun.com

West Nile time has landed

The conditions are setting up perfectly for a bumper crop of mosquitoes this year, which means an approaching danger of the spread of West Nile virus.

“We’re not active yet, but it’s coming,” said Janet Mann, with the Nevada County Department of Environmental Health in Truckee.

Heavy snowmelt is now trickling down into ponds and wetlands, setting up great mosquito habitat.

“It’s perfect mosquito larvae conditions,” said Ted Owens, Nevada County supervisor for Truckee.

Last year the county received $150,000 from the state to combat the mosquito population. Although that funding has been spent, Owens said the money set the county up to better respond to the West Nile threat this year.

“I think the benefits are still realized this year,” said Owens of the funding, $60,000 of which was spent in eastern Nevada County. “We’re much better organized to deal with it this year.”

The money bought vehicles and equipment that can be used this year to combat the virus, he said.

Nevada County supervisors decided not to put a property tax initiative on the June ballot that could have provided the $325,000 needed to start a full vector control program in the county. Nevada County, unlike its neighbor Placer County, does not have a full control unit.

Officials are still waiting to see the severity of the West Nile season, said Owens. The virus is known to peak and then tail off after a few years.

Last year the county had 29 infected birds, five infected horses and four infected humans. None of the people infected with the virus died last year.

In the eastern side of Nevada County, no birds tested positive for the disease, said Larry Sage, environmental health director for Nevada County.

“Because of our elevation and our temperatures, we are at less risk than the lower elevations,” said Sage.

In the higher elevations, the presence of the disease is also often delayed, coming in later in the summer than the rest of the county.

But he still cautioned Truckee residents to eliminate standing water on their property, which serves a breeding ground of the insects.

“I think [West Nile Virus] could certainly crop up this year,” said Sage.

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