Campus Takes Preventative Measures to Protect Against West Nile Virus


Campus Takes Preventative Measures to Protect Against West Nile Virus
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Cal Poly Pomona is actively working to abate mosquitoes in the area and remove stagnant pools of water as part of an effort to prevent the spread of the West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness that has been identified throughout the region. There have been no reports of human infection on campus.

The university's Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) department continues to work with the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito Abatement District to eliminate any mosquito breeding areas found on campus.

“The key to preventing West Nile and other diseases is to control the mosquitoes that are the carriers,” says David Patterson, director of EH&S. “The university takes safety seriously, and efforts to be proactive and protect the campus community from the presence of West Nile virus will continue to be a priority.”

Mosquito Abatement District technicians inspect the campus on a routine basis and abate any problem areas. They also work directly with EH&S to improve the campus's prevention procedures. Part of this effort includes training and informing designated individuals from various departments to conduct inspections for mosquitoes twice each week and eliminate stagnant pools of water. These inspections are conducted during the mosquito season, which is typically March through November.

Kay Vierra, interim director of Student Health Services, says that her staff of physicians and nurses is aware of the symptoms associated with the virus, and no patients have complained of these symptoms.

West Nile virus generally produces only mild flu-like symptoms in a healthy person, but it can be a potentially serious illness affecting the central nervous system. Experts believe West Nile virus is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. Most often, the virus is spread by mosquitoes biting an infected bird or other animal and then biting a person.

West Nile virus has also been known to infect horses in the region. Home to the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center, Cal Poly Pomona has been proactive in vaccinating all of its horses for West Nile Virus for the past two years. University Veterinarian Steven Wickler says that starting last year his staff began following an aggressive program of vaccinating and boostering the entire herd.

“The vaccine does not guarantee prevention of the disease, but it is highly effective and can reduce the severity of the disease if the animal does contract the disease,” says Wickler.

The following are a few tips to reduce the risk of being bitten by a mosquito:

  • Apply insect repellant that contains DEET to exposed skin before going outdoors. 
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. 
  • Avoid outdoor activities from dusk to dawn when mosquito biting is at its peak. 
  • Drain stagnant water around your home and report stagnant water found at work. These are mosquito breeding sites. 

For more information about West Nile virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/wnv_factSheet.htm.

To contact Student Health Services, call (909) 869-4000. To contact Environmental Health & Safety, call (909) 869-4697.