95th AMDS works to protect Edwards from West Nile

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Being in the desert, does not mean we do not have mosquitoes. Although standing water is scarce here, it doesn't mean mosquitoes are not breeding. Also, they can spread disease just by contact.

California is second in the United States for confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus, and Kern County has the most cases in the state.

So far, the Antelope Valley has been lucky. All the positive cases found in humans and birds have been in Bakersfield, Calif.

West Nile Virus is a strain of encephalitis, which is a serious, untreatable and deadly viral disease that is carried primarily by mosquitoes. Symptoms can include severe headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting and chills.

There are many ways to protect yourself from mosquitoes. Use bug spray that contains Meta-N,N-diethyl toluamide more commonly known as DEET. This is the most common insect repellant. The higher the DEET concentration, the longer the protection lasts. A 25-percent DEET concentration is best. This percentage allows up to five hours of protection from biting insects.

Also, wear loose fitted clothing when exposed to mosquitoes. Tight-fitting clothing is like another layer of skin that biting insects can still penetrate. To prevent mosquitoes from coming into your home, ensure screens on doors and windows are secure.

You can help to eliminate mosquito breeding sites by removing standing water, such as water collected in flowerpots from sprinklers or rainfall. Keep your rain gutters clean and free of debris where water might collect. Anything that may potentially hold standing water should be monitored and emptied when necessary.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Edwards Public Health technicians set traps, which are located strategically around the base to monitor the mosquito population. Public Health has caught a total of 20 mosquitoes this season and all have been sent to Brooks City-Base, Texas, for analysis and testing.

West Nile Virus is also transmitted to birds, horses and chickens.

Report any dead birds to the California Department of Health Services at 1-877-968-BIRD or through their website at http://westnile.ca.gov.

When on base, call the Edwards Entomologist at 277-2431 or 277-1401.