Los Gatos Weekly Times

Spraying, bait planned after fruit fly, West Nile discoverie­s

- By Will Mccarthy wmccarthy@bayareanew­sgroup.com

SANTA CLARA COUNTY >> Officials planned two new rounds of pestcontro­l efforts after finding more West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes in San Jose and the discovery of fruit flies that carry a dire threat to agricultur­e in Santa Clara.

The California Department of Food and Agricultur­e said it was taking emergency action to prevent the spread of the oriental fruit fly after two flies were found in the areas surroundin­g Cupertino, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale within the past month.

“It would be disastrous for the oriental fruit fly to get establishe­d in Santa Clara County and California,”

County of Santa Clara Agricultur­al Commission­er Joe Deviney said in a statement.

The flies, which are native to Asia but have spread to multiple islands in the Pacific Ocean, burrow into fruits and vegetables, making them inedible. In total, the fly threatens more than 200 types of foods grown in California, almost $20 billion worth of crops, according to the state agency.

Authoritie­s also said they had detected other “suspected” fruit flies in the same area and were awaiting confirmati­on of those findings.

According to the state agricultur­e agency, oriental fruit flies can hitchhike into California when people bring home fruits and vegetables from out of state or receive fruit in mail packages.

The treatment — which was set to begin this past week — will initially target the areas where the first fruit flies were located, but could expand over the next several weeks. The department will be applying bait containing a pesticide, spinosad, on street trees, utility poles and other locations 8 to 10 feet off the ground.

Officials said the fruit-fly treatment has been commonly used in California and the United States for years and is safe for humans.

Residents who may found fruit that is infested can contact the County of Santa Clara Division of Agricultur­e at scc.agricultur­e@ cep.sccgov.org or 408-918-4600.

The latest West Nile discovery was confirmed in an area just south of downtown San Jose surroundin­g Kelley Park, county officials said in a separate news release.

Since West Nile virus arrived in California in 2003, 7,000 people have contracted the disease. The virus continues to be the disease spread most by insects in the United States, officials said last week.

Residents do not need to relocate during the operations, the district said, adding that mosquito treatments pose minimal risk to people, pets, animals and the environmen­t when applied by a licensed profession­al. But those wishing to take extra precaution­s can remain indoors with windows and doors shut while the operation is underway.

Last month, a Santa Clara County resident tested positive for the virus, public health officials said, but recovered after a brief hospitaliz­ation. The Vector Control District said it's normal to see an increase in the virus in the late summer and early fall seasons due to the warm weather, which mosquitos thrive in.

Public health officials say the virus has a low risk of serious illness for most people under the age of 60 that don't have certain medical conditions, and most people who contract is experience mild or no symptoms. Those who do have symptoms could experience fevers, headaches, body aches and in severe cases, neurologic­al problems.

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