San Diego County | 21 April 2012

With warmer weather and mosquito season fast-approaching, California legislators have declared April 22-28 “West Nile virus and Mosquito & Vector Control Awareness” week, reminding us all to be smart and protect ourselves from the potentially-fatal disease.

San Diego County, with larvicide drops, education and prevention, has done a good job of warding off West Nile virus, with zero human illnesses in 2010 and 2011 and just one batch of mosquitoes testing positive in 2011.

But with 158 illnesses and nine deaths statewide in 2011, West Nile virus remains a threat.

“So far, our efforts have paid off here in San Diego County,” said Supervisor Greg Cox. “But we need to stay vigilant. Diseases like West Nile virus can strike anywhere, anytime. Fortunately, all of us can take an active role in protecting ourselves and the community.”

Cox said the County would continue to do its part: using helicopters and other equipment to drop mosquito-larvicide into ponds and water sources; looking for “green” pools that could become mosquito breeding grounds; giving out free mosquito-eating fish; and visiting schools and health fairs with West Nile virus posters and educational materials.

County Environmental Health officials said the public can also help, by remembering and acting upon this phrase: “Prevent, Protect, Report.”

  • Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites: Protect yourself from the virus by staying inside when mosquitoes are most active, between dusk and dawn. Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors. Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of eucalyptus or IR3535 when outside. Make sure screens on windows and doors are in good condition and secured.
  • 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 may be used to control mosquito breeding in backyard water sources such as unused swimming pools, ponds, fountains and horse troughs.
  • Report Dead Birds and Green Swimming Pools: Please report dead crows, ravens, jays, hawks and owls, and green pools to the Vector Control Program.

County officials said people can sign up to receive text messages to get the latest West Nile virus updates over their cell phones. All they have to do is text the word PEST to the number 75309 from their cell phones.

For information about West Nile virus and how to protect yourself, call 858-694-2888 or visit www.SDFightTheBite.com.

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