County Asking San Diegans to Protect Themselves Against West Nile Virus

After the weekend’s record-breaking rainfall, San Diego County health officials are reminding people of the dangers of standing water in the fight against West Nile virus.

To make sure residents do not have potential breeding grounds in their house, officials recommend dumping out standing water in buckets, rain gutters, garbage cans or outdoor toys and cover up any collected rain water to use for lawns or landscaping. If the container is large, the county provides free mosquito-eating fish.

“These are simple things people can do to protect themselves and their families,” said Environmental Health Director Elizabeth Pozzebon in a statement. “They should also remember to wear insect repellent and report dead birds by calling or emailing our vector control program.”

Mosquitos, which can transmit the virus, breed easier in warmer temperatures. Still water gives the animals more places to breed as well.

Since the beginning of the year, vector control inspectors have picked up six infected batches of mosquitoes – the same amount collected for the whole of 2014.

The rise in mosquitoes with West Nile accompanies a May spike in the number of infected dead birds, which continues to grow.

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

So far, there have been no reported cases of West Nile in humans. Last year, 11 people in San Diego were diagnosed with the virus, which is the largest number since 2009. Two people were killed by the illness.

The county recommends doing three things when you want to avoid West Nile: Prevent, protect and report.

Officials say you should prevent mosquito breeding by dumping out anything around your home that can hold water. If you have ponds, the county offers free mosquito fish to help get rid of the pests.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites by using insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. You could also wear long sleeves and pants, and make sure your doors and windows are secure enough to keep the insects out.

Finally, report any dead birds or green swimming pools you see to the vector control program by calling 858-694-2888, emailing or downloading the county’s app “Fight the Bite.”

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