Livingston sprays for West Nile when virus found in city

MERCED -- The airplane buzzing around Livingston on Thursday evening was a sign that West Nile virus was found in the city for the first time this year.

Allan Inman, manager and entomologist for the Merced County Mosquito Abatement District, said mosquitoes testing positive for the virus have been found near Yamato Colony School.

"We have actually put out a mosquito warning," Inman said. The warning tells residents the virus has been found in the area.

Inman said there have been mosquitoes, chickens and birds found in the county that have tested positive, and although the weather may be cooler, the threat of the virus remains high.

A plane will spray for mosquitoes whenever the district finds West Nile virus in an area. Planes have sprayed the city of Merced several times this year, because dead birds testing positive for the virus were found in north Merced.

"We focused on the riparian areas in North Merced, by the creeks and bike paths," Inman said.

Breeding mosquitoes were found on Foster Farms property in Livingston, Inman said. The chicken producer has cooperated with the abatement district in draining water to get rid of breeding areas.

There have been no human cases on West Nile in Merced this year, Inman said. Last year, there were four cases of humans in the county contracting the virus. One was fatal. An elderly woman in Fresno died of the virus this year.

Horses also are susceptible to the virus. Five have contracted it in Madera County and two of them have died. One horse in Stanislaus County has contracted the virus this year.

The district has found 14 birds that tested positive for the virus in the county this year, 10 of them in Merced. The other birds were found in Newman, Los Banos and at the county line near Turlock.

Positive-testing chickens were found on Bailey Road, close to Merced city limit, Inman said.

"This time of year is when people have to be very vigilant," Inman said. "People are going to football games and spending more time outside. And it's still warm enough for mosquitoes."