Environment

More West Nile Virus Infected Mosquitoes Found

San Diego County vector control inspectors have collected three new batches of mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus, in another sign that this year could be a tough one regarding the potentially fatal disease.

The newly collected mosquitoes brought this year’s total of infected mosquito batches to six — the same number collected in all of 2014.

Combined with the fact that the number of dead birds testing positive with West Nile virus spiked in May and continues to rise, County officials once again reminded people this week to protect themselves.

“Mosquitoes are the main way people get exposed to West Nile virus,” said Department of Environmental Health Director Elizabeth Pozzebon, “so remember to get rid of standing water around your homes so mosquitoes can’t breed, wear insect repellent and report dead birds.”

The new batches of infected mosquitoes were collected in and around the community of Jamacha, near the Lemon Grove border. County vector control officials placed mosquito traps in that area because the County had collected a number of dead birds from that area that tested positive for West Nile virus.

The number of infected dead birds found around the County spiked in May from five to 29. That number has now reached 33 — a number San Diego County didn’t reach in 2014 until November and by far the largest number found in any county in California this year.

San Diego County has largely escaped the effects of West Nile virus since it first appeared in California in 2003. The County has taken aggressive measures to keep the disease in check, including: using helicopters to drop larvicide that is harmless to people, pets and plants but deadly to mosquito larvae on 48 local waterways; hand treating another roughly 2,000 locations; giving out free mosquito-eating fish; targeting neglected swimming pools; and creating an extensive public education campaign.

But in 2014, 11 San Diego residents were diagnosed with West Nile virus, the most here since 2009, and two people died. In California last year, 801 people were diagnosed with the disease and 31 people died.

San Diego County environmental health officials urged people to remember to “Prevent, Protect, Report.”

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 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 the Vector Control Program by calling (858) 694-2888, emailing vector@sdcounty.ca.gov, or by downloading and using the County’s “Fight the Bite” mobile app.

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