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Shasta County mosquitoes test positive for virus not seen there in over 50 years

A female mosquito.
Lauren Bishop
A female mosquito.

So far, no humans have tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis.

Mosquitoes in Shasta County have tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis, which has not been detected in the county since 1972. The news was announced on Thursday.

The Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District said the virus was detected in Anderson, California, about 10 miles south of Redding, as part of the district's regular mosquito-borne disease surveillance.

St. Louis encephalitis is similar to West Nile virus and can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Severe disease can involve encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain.

“While this is the first positive test result in five decades, it serves as a crucial reminder that mosquitoes remain a significant public health concern in our region," District Manager Peter Bonkrude said in a press release. "This record year has brought historic mosquito numbers, record high WNV [West Nile virus] positives in mosquitoes and now re-emerging diseases. We are committed to protecting the community from vector-borne diseases and will be taking immediate action to address this finding.”

The Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District said it will be increasing its mosquito surveillance in the area and increasing control efforts where needed.

To prevent being bitten, the district recommends avoiding outdoor activities at dawn or dusk, wearing long sleeves and pants when mosquitoes are active, draining any standing water and using insect repellent.

Residents can receive email or text notifications for upcoming adult mosquito treatments. To sign up, go to Mosquito Control Notifications on the website.

For more information about SMVCD’s services, West Nile virus or new emerging mosquito-borne diseases, contact the Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District at (530) 365-3768 or visit www.ShastaMosquito.org.

Jane Vaughan is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. Jane began her journalism career as a reporter for a community newspaper in Portland, Maine. She's been a producer at New Hampshire Public Radio and worked on WNYC's On The Media.