Neighborhood fogging begins for West Nile virus

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Crews sprayed a huge area of Northwest Fresno overnight Thursday into Friday, in an effort to kill off mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus. The Fresno Mosquito and Vector Control District sprayed near Herndon and Milburn.

Signs were posted for the past few days to warn people living in the area that there are enough mosquitoes and birds infected with potentially deadly WNV, so officials decided to take action.

"I go to the park, there are a lot of mosquitoes, I get bitten, yeah," said resident Jag Bisla. He spotted the warnings on his way home from work.

He said whatever will protect him and his neighbors is a much appreciated effort. "West Nile in my area, that's not a good thing," Bisla said. "But when they say actually they're taking care of it, it's good."

Trucks rigged with special sprayers drove through the neighborhood spraying tiny chemical particles. It's a light fog designed to drift in the breeze and kill mosquitoes.

"We don't spray in town very often," said the district's director Tim Phillips. "It's a rare occasion."

Phillips says this year the drought is likely the reason for a rise in WNV cases, 26 in Fresno County so far this year.

Dry conditions mean few places for water to pool, which forces birds and mosquitoes to share water and transmit the virus from fewer sources.

"There's a lot more activity this year," Phillips said. "It's scary; we had 11 West Nile cases in 7 days, that's never happened before."

Phillips says the neighborhood has filed more complaints about mosquito activity, but not everyone has felt the bite this year.

"I'm pretty good about being bitten," laughed Ken Chavez. "But I haven't really had any at all so far this year."

Most WNV infections never present with symptoms. Few cases are severe, and those initially appear similar to the flu.

The district says the spray's safety level is similar to in-home bug spray. Some of the chemicals are the same used in flea and tick treatments, so animals are said to be safe as well, Phillips said.

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