West Nile Virus Information Sent to All Contra Costa Households
May 19, 2003
As part of an all-out campaign to reach everyone about a disease expected to arrive in the county this summer, the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District sent important information about the West Nile Virus (WNV) to more than 370,000 households in the county.
Sent on May 7 through the mail or as an insert in the Contra Costa Times, the colorful tabloid-sized four-page newsletter focuses on the disease, how it is spread and how to reduce our risk of getting it. WNV is transmitted by mosquitoes to humans and horses from infected birds. Less than one percent of people infected with WNV get severely ill, with most infected people having mild or no symptoms. People with weak immune systems, such as the elderly, are at greater risk for severe illness, the most serious being encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
"Last year we produced a similar newsletter that described all the services that our program offers. This year we chose to highlight WNV because we want Contra Costa residents to know what they can do - and what we are doing along with other local agencies - when the disease shows up here. Residents, for instance, have a key role in controlling mosquitoes in their backyards, which are our number one source of mosquitoes," says Deborah Bass, Public Affairs Officer for the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District (CCMVCD).
Bass says CCMVCD is actively monitoring for presence of WNV in the county by regularly testing chicken flocks in four Contra Costa areas (Hercules, Knightsen, Martinez and Oakley) for any sign of WNV in their blood. CCMVCD also traps mosquitoes throughout the county and sends these to the University of California for virus testing.
"We continue to work with the county and city governments to make sure we have a coordinated response to WNV. In fact, we have set up four presentations to brief city and county personnel about WNV," Bass says, adding the more we know about the disease, the more prepared we will be when it appears in the county.
She encourages residents to read the information that CCMVCD sent them. Those who want to learn more about WNV can also go online to the www.ccmvcd.dst.ca.us or to the Contra Costa Public Health website at www.ccpublichealth.org. The video West Nile Virus: Are We Prepared?, put together by CCMVCD and Contra Costa Health Services, also continues to air on Contra Costa Television, the county's government access cable station.
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