Environment

It’s Rained Cats and Dogs; Don’t Let it Grow Mosquitoes

Seeing summer rain in San Diego County is more than a shock — it’s also a good time to remind people to protect themselves against West Nile virus by making sure to mosquito-proof or dump out standing water around their homes.

While no one has been diagnosed with West Nile virus in the county this year, the disease has been more apparent than it has in many years. Midway through 2015, the County’s Department of Environmental Health has already collected more infected dead birds, 61, and mosquito batches, nine, than it did all last year when 11 San Diego County residents were diagnosed with the disease and two people died.

And the recent rainstorms can give the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus more places to breed. Environmental health officials said that our current rainfall poses a larger threat from mosquitoes because it happened — unlike our normal winter rains — during our warm summer months. The warmer temperatures allow mosquitoes to breed faster. In addition, in warmer months, there are more species, and larger numbers of them, active than in cooler temperatures. So, environmental health officials said, people should check to make sure they don’t have potential mosquito-breeding grounds around their homes.

If you have standing water in things like buckets, rain gutters, garbage cans or kids outdoor toys — dump it out.

If you’ve collected rain to use on your lawns or landscaping, remember to cover it so it won’t become a breeding spot. Cover containers with a reasonably tight-fitting lid or a screen — or, if it’s a large container, get free mosquito-eating fish from the County.

“These are simple things people can do to protect themselves and their families,” said Environmental Health Director Elizabeth Pozzebon. “They should also remember to wear insect repellent and report dead birds by calling or emailing our vector control program.”

Pozzebon said people should remember the County’s “Prevent, Protect, Report” slogan.

Prevent Mosquito Breeding: Dump out or remove any item inside or outside of homes 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 most mosquitoes are most active, at dusk and dawn. Wear long sleeves and pants or use repellent when outdoors. Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. 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 environmental health’s Vector Control Program by calling (858) 694-2888 or emailing 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