Help 'Fight the Bite' at UCSF

Now that the first case of West Nile virus (WNV) has surfaced in San Francisco, the campus community is encouraged to do what it can to guard against mosquito bites. Bites from mosquitoes are the route by which WNV is transmitted to humans. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. While 80 percent of those infected with WNV have no symptoms and don't realize they are infected, it is important to take personal precautions to prevent contracting the virus. The UCSF Office of Environmental Health & Safety (OEH&S) is getting the word out about protection by hanging "Fight the Bite" posters around campus. The posters, from the California Department of Health Services, serve as a reminder to faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors to take appropriate safety steps to guard against WNV. The three ways to reduce the risk of becoming sick from WNV are to avoid mosquito bites, mosquito-proof your home and report dead birds. To report dead birds, especially crows, ravens, magpies or jays, call at 1-877/968-2473 or 1-877-WNV-BIRD. At UCSF, call OEH&S at 415/476-1300 for pick-up and testing. Do not pick up a dead bird with bare hands.

Recommendations for avoiding mosquitoes are:

Limit outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active;

Dress in long sleeves and pants during dusk and dawn and when in areas where mosquitoes are active;

Use a recommended insect repellent.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using products containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) or Picaridin (KBR 3023). The CDC advises people to consult their health care provider immediately if they have symptoms of high fever, severe headache and stiff neck. OEH&S and Facilities Management carry out a mosquito surveillance and control program on all UCSF property to identify and eliminate mosquito breeding habitats - standing water in open containers, gutters, drainage ditches, tree hollows and other sites -- and kill mosquito larvae if found. OEH&S works with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to monitor the success of the mosquito abatement program. "UCSF is taking aggressive steps to minimize possible mosquito breeding environments on UCSF grounds," says Dave Grego, associate director of campus Facilities Management. "In addition, building teams are doing preventative maintenance on rooftops and other potential areas of infestation." The virus is most prevalent from May to October, when mosquitoes are most abundant. The incidence of WNV in California increased rapidly after the warm weather that began in early July. San Francisco has rolled out a fleet of bicyclists to deposit nontoxic environmentally conscious pellets in catch basins throughout the city. The pellets interfere with mosquito larvae maturation without affecting water quality. Some counties have deployed mosquito larvae-eating fish. Other counties in California have already implemented spraying. To date, 208 human cases and six deaths of WNV have been reported in California. In 2004, a total of 175 human cases of WNV occurred in the state. More information about WNV is available on the state's webpage.

Related Links

Communicable Disease Prevention Program