When Marie Heilman couldn\u2019t get out of bed until 7pm one day, she knew there was something seriously wrong. Marie, an indefatigable volunteer in the Sacramento community and mother of four children, rarely sleeps past 7am. She assumed she had a bug, resolving to get some rest and get back on her game in no time. The fatigue was soon accompanied by persistent nausea, vertigo, and a searing headache from her lower back to the top of her head. Marie was in fact suffering from the West Nile Virus, a disease her doctors couldn\u2019t locate until it was almost too late. \u201cMy husband was actually the one who came up with West Nile diagnosis because I had every symptom except the rash,\u201d Marie recalls. \u201cThe doctors had no idea what it was, because the blood tests and even a spinal tap revealed nothing. They admitted me thinking I had meningitis, gave me antibiotics and fluids for my headache.\u201d The doctors had no idea what it was Marie believes she was bitten while hosting a BBQ at her home in Winters. The first symptoms arrived two weeks later. While her reaction to being bitten was more severe than most, the abundance of mosquitos in Yolo and Sacramento Counties suggest there will be more cases in the future. Since 1946 the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District (SYMVCD) has monitored mosquito levels to assess the threat of disease transmission and reduce annoyance levels. The 2016 statistics from Yolo-Sacramento Counties indicate that the two Culex species of mosquito that carry the West Nile virus remain in the area. The potential of the West Nile Virus has intensified efforts to educate the community about the seriousness of mosquito-borne diseases and what can be done to reduce the volume of insects in our community. \u201cWe [have seen] a higher abundance of mosquitos,\u201d says SYMVCD spokesperson Luz Maria Robles, citing the 2016 Annual Report. The number of mosquitos was six times the 2015 numbers. In addition, the only three cases of West Nile Virus appeared in Yolo and Sacramento counties, with two cases and one case respectively. \u201cEighty percent of West Nile virus cases are symptom-free,\u201d Robles explains. \u201cThe remaining will suffer from fatigue, fever, and even a rash that lasts a couple of weeks.\u201d Eighty percent of West Nile virus cases are symptom-free One in 150 cases, however, are neuro-invasive, a condition that can lead to paralysis and even death. Marie Heilman\u2019s condition was so severe that her husband signed a \u201cDo Not Resuscitate\u201d form and her oldest child begged her \u201cnot to go.\u201d \u201cThe mosquito is actually the most dangerous insect on the planet,\u201d confirms Robles. The mosquito is actually the most dangerous insect on the planet Fightthebite.net, the SYMVCD website, contains information about how to limit mosquitos \u2013 eliminate standing water, for one thing \u2013 and other useful information. The West Nile and Spraying FAQs address community concerns about the virus and vector control respectively. There are also up-to-the-minute updates about West Nile cases and spraying schedules. A valuable set of downloadable brochures instruct readers how to \u201cFight the Bite\u201d not just from mosquitos but also yellowjackets, paper wasps, ticks and bees. Understanding how to thwart mosquito populations begins with knowledge of the mosquito life cycle. An adult lays her eggs on the water\u2019s surface, a nursery that can be as little as one teaspoon of standing water! The larva and pupa both develop just below the water\u2019s surface, only leaving the water as adults. \u201cWe always advise people not to have stagnant water on their property,\u201d says Robles. \u201cThis way you can ensure you\u2019re not breeding mosquitos at your home.\u201d A helpful online checklist instructs readers exactly how often to change everything from pet water bowls to wading pools. It lists techniques for personal protection against mosquitos in any environment, and especially during the summer season when mosquitos are most populous. These precautions couldn\u2019t be more important as West Nile virus continues to spread and the Zika virus appears more frequently in North America. \u201cI still have constant pain and muscle spasms throughout my body, ten years later,\u201d says Marie, who couldn\u2019t read for eighteen months. \u201cI can\u2019t drive at night, someone has to hold on to me at night, and I get extremely lethargic due to heat. I can\u2019t handle the sun and I will be wiped out for a week. It\u2019s like I have no immune system. If I am around my grandkids I will get their cold and will be ten times worse.\u201d I still have constant pain and muscle spasms throughout my body, ten years later Still, Marie says every day she is happy to be alive, having realized as an active 40-year old that West Nile virus doesn\u2019t affect only the elderly and very young. She even joined the Sacramento-Yolo County Mosquito Vector Control Board of Directors until the need to drive at night made it impossible to do so; another consequence of the virus. Marie urges readers to make use of the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District resources. These include free home inspection, mosquito-eating fish for ponds and troughs, and mosquito repellant wipes for outdoor events. SYMVCD also provides insect repellent to homeless shelters and give presentations in classrooms and community groups. \u201cIt\u2019s essential you always wear insect repellant when spending time outside,\u201d implores Robles. \u201cIt\u2019s a common misperception you should only wear insect repellent when hiking or camping. Find an insect repellant you like and wear it!\u201d It\u2019s essential you always wear insect repellant when spending time outside The first step to prevention is education. To learn more how you can protect yourself and your family please visit FighttheBite.net or call 1-800-429-1022.