The first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) this year was recorded in Dos Palos according to a press release from the office of the County Mosquito Abatement District (District). The information regarding the first human contraction of the virus was sent to the district. Three human cases of WNV have been confirmed in California as of July 28. The district has also detected WNV through their regular tracking, identifying the virus in 19 sentinel chickens and six mosquito pooled samples. The community can take steps to reduce mosquito breeding and help prevent cases in the area. Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water. By eliminating sources of standing water, mosquito breeding can be hindered. Mosquitos are most active at dawn and dusk, try to stay inside during those hours. Anytime residents go outside, apply insect repellent as directed containing the active ingredient DEET. In the District’s Press Release, it is further noted that the Centers for Disease Control also recommends “insect repellant containing oil of lemon eucalyptus and Picaridin.” While the district is working to treat mosquito breeding by ground and aerial sources as needed, the largest concern is posed by neglected swimming pools. Neglected swimming pools offer mosquitos breeding ground in the heart of residential areas leaving neighboring communities a risk of contracting WNV. “This year’s first human case is a month earlier than the first human case last year,” states General Manager, Rhiannon Jones. “The wetter winter, the triple digit temperatures in July, and the increase in mosquito populations in Merced County are contributing factors to earlier than normal virus activity.” Officials say that reporting dead birds is an essential step in identifying where WNV is occurring and taking steps to avoid further spread. Dead birds help officials know what areas are in need of treatment. To report a dead bird, call the California State Hotline at 1-877-WNV-BIRD or report it online as www. To report mosquito breeding problem areas in Merced County call (209) 722-1527 or visit

Courtney Andrade