Environment

County Urges Public to Remember it’s Still West Nile Virus Season

The calendar may say that fall has arrived, but warm weather means San Diego County residents still need to remember to protect themselves from mosquitoes and the potentially deadly West Nile virus.

“People need to remember to use insect repellents, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants if they’re out at dawn or dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and to clear their yards of standing water where mosquitoes can breed,” said San Diego County Department of Environmental Health Director Elizabeth Pozzebon.

So far this year, three San Diego County residents have been diagnosed with West Nile virus. Those numbers are very small compared to other nearby counties. Orange County has seen 157 of California’s 428 total human cases of the disease this year; Los Angeles County has had 87 human cases.

However, San Diego County’s three cases are its first local cases since 2012 and the most here since five people were diagnosed with the virus in 2009.

Officials from the County Vector Control Program — which protects people by monitoring and controlling “vectors,” pests like mosquitoes that can spread disease to people — said there are plenty of other signs that West Nile virus is active in the county and people should be careful.

So far this summer, vector control has recovered 21 dead birds that have tested positive for the virus — a number that ballooned from nine at the end of August — in addition to two positive mosquito batches.

RELATED: ‘Fight the Bite!’ App Takes on West Nile Virus

Environmental Health and vector control officials have also responded to more than 1,204 neglected “green” swimming pools around the county this summer, spots that could have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

County officials urged people to remember their West Nile virus motto: “Prevent, Protect, Report.” They also reminded the public that they can keep up with West Nile virus activity and anonymously report dead birds and green swimming pools by downloading the County’s “Fight the Bite” phone app.

Prevent Mosquito Breeding: Dump out or remove any backyard item that can hold water, such as plant saucers, rain gutters, buckets, garbage cans, toys, old tires, and wheelbarrows. Mosquito fish, available for free, may be used to control mosquito breeding in backyard water sources such as unused swimming pools, ponds, fountains and horse troughs.

Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites: Protect yourself from West Nile virus by staying inside when mosquitoes are most active, at dusk and dawn. Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors. Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 when outside. Make sure screens on windows and doors are in good condition and secured to keep insects out.

Report Dead Birds and Green Swimming Pools: Report dead crows, ravens, jays, hawks and owls, and green swimming pools to the Vector Control Program at (858) 694-2888 or vector@sdcounty.ca.gov.

For more information about West Nile virus, go to San Diego County’s “Fight the Bite” website.

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact