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2015 Predicted To Be A Bad Year For West Nile Virus

    Some may have thought that our problems with West Nile were behind us during the years of 2009, 2010 and 2011. Government agencies were using trucks and planes to spray and eliminate hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes. Public education campaigns were also being ran that reminded people to drain standing water and to use mosquito repellant.

    2012 was the start of California’s long draught and that was when we saw the number of West Nile cases triple from 158 to 479. In 2014, the number of cases rose to 798 and West Nile claimed 29 people’s lives.

    Experts blame the ongoing drought and are predicting another bad year in 2015.



Why Are Droughts A Problem?

    Streams of water stop flowing during droughts and quite often, only pools of water are left. Many of these pools of water become stagnant and mosquitoes are very attracted to stagnant water.

Another important point to consider is that when we have droughts, the water in our wilderness areas becomes in short supply. This forces birds that carry West Nile to move closer to artificial sources in populated areas. These birds are then bitten by mosquitoes and this is how the infection is spread to more people.

    Orange County has been hard hit and they recorded 266 human cases of the disease in 2014.

    “Our infection rate in mosquitoes was off the chart,” said Jared Dever, spokesman for Orange County Vector Control. “Essentially every mosquito we captured in Orange County was testing positive.”

    The Orange County Vector Control tells us that the most common breeding sites for mosquitoes are located around our homes.

    Unmaintained swimming pools are a huge source of mosquitoes and there are thousands of them in Orange County. If you know of a pool like this, please call the Vector Control District and have them treat it.

    They tell us to go around our homes and check for standing water. Fish ponds, bird baths, clogged rain gutters, open cans, flower pots and old car tires are important places to check. If you see standing water, drain it and fix these items so they will stay dry.

Check the screens on your doors and windows. If they are damaged, you need to have them repaired to keep these pests out of your home.

    Lastly, if you’re going to be outdoors and you suspect there are mosquitoes, wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and shoes. Another great suggestion is to use a product, such as “Off Insect Repellant or “Deep Woods Insect Repellant.” Both of these products were tested by the Centers for Disease Control and are proven to be effective.

    Be safe and let’s all work together to solve this problem.