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County Reminds Citizens to Be on West Nile Virus Alert this Weekend

The county's Vector Control District warns to be on the lookout for dead birds and stagnant swimming pools.

Media release from Orange County Vector Control:

The Orange County Vector Control District (OCVCD) reminds residents to stay safe during the holiday weekend by following recommendations to reduce exposure to mosquito bites and prevent infection of West Nile virus (WNV).

OCVCD Board of Trustees President James Gomez commented, “The tragic outbreak of West Nile virus in Texas and throughout the Midwest underscores the continued danger of this virus, as reports of human infections in California begin to rise. Compared to surrounding counties, Orange County is currently reporting fewer positive findings of West Nile virus in mosquito, birds, and humans. Our current level of reduced virus activity can be attributed to the vigilance of residents and vector control, partnering in the shared responsibility of mosquito breeding source reduction. However, these reports should not lead residents to believe that the threat of WNV infection is absent from the county.”

Summer outdoor activities increase human exposure to mosquitoes, while high temperatures decrease the time required for mosquitoes to develop from egg to adult. This combination results in larger populations of disease-carrying mosquitoes coming in contact with residents. OCVCD routinely tests groups of female mosquitoes, called mosquito pools, and dead birds for the presence of West Nile virus.

A dead bird that tested positive for West Nile virus was found in Laguna Beach earlier this year.

“West Nile virus outbreaks cannot be accurately predicted based on environmental factors such as wild bird immunity levels, mosquito population density, or annual precipitation. Therefore, it is important that residents remember West Nile virus is endemic in Orange County and should be considered an ongoing threat to public health even during times of reduced virus transmission,” reminded Robert Cummings, Director of Scientific Technical Services.

“Labor Day celebrations offer residents a chance to enjoy the open spaces and amenities our cities and county have to offer. I want to ensure the public that OCVCD staff is doing everything possible to eliminate mosquitoes and educate the public about West Nile virus prevention. By adhering to the following recommendations, residents can enjoy a safe and healthy Labor Day,” stated Gomez.

The OCVCD offers the following tips for avoiding exposure to West Nile virus:

1. DRAIN - Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including buckets, old car tires, and pet bowls. If you have a pond, use mosquito fish (available from OCVCD) or commercially available products to eliminate mosquito larvae.

2. DAWN AND DUSK - Mosquitoes that carry WNV bite in the early morning and evening. It is important to use repellent and wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure to mosquito bites during this time.

3. DEFEND - Use an EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep mosquitoes from biting. Make sure your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.

To submit a service request to the Orange County Vector Control District, and to report dead birds or neglected swimming pools, call 714-971-2421 or 949-654-2421, or fill out this online request form.

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