Neglected pools in Orange County backyards have been serving as breeding grounds for mosquitoes with West Nile virus, and county officials have taken to using court orders to access and treat the infected properties.
Starting in July, the Orange County Vector Control District has filed a series of warrants in the Orange County Superior Court to inspect dozens of homes that have been noted as having neglected pools.
"One thing about these bad swimming pools is that it puts a breeding source right in the neighborhood," said Robert Cummings, director of scientific technical services at OC Vecter Control. "That's why we need to find these."
District Spokesman Jared Denver said cases are centered mainly in the northern part of the county.
Denver said the properties listed in the warrants have been previously been flagged for non-compliance and many are foreclosed homes.
"They haven’t been responding to us because there simply isn’t anyone residing at the property," Denver said.
The warrants allow vector control officials to enter the properties and figure out how to squash the bug problem. Once officials find a suspected breeding pool, clean-up is relatively simple.
Mosquitofish are dumped in to eat up the critters and turn the swimming pool into a fish pond, Denver said.
Health officials in Orange County have urged residents to clean their pools and sweep their gutters to prevent standing water that attracts potential virus-carrying mosquitoes.
No deaths from the disease have been reported, but officials said the county is on track to match or exceed levels of infection not seen since 2008.