With April 19-25 designated West Nile Virus and Mosquito and Vector Control Awareness Week in California, Riverside County health officials are asking residents to take steps to prevent the illness from spreading.
In 2014, 801 human cases of West Nile Virus were reported in California, the second highest in state history. Twelve cases were reported by Riverside County last year.
Riverside County’s Vector Control Program actively hunts for potential mosquito breeding sources and treats them with environmentally safe methods to eliminate mosquitoes before they become adults. Mosquitofish can be supplied to residents in the program service area (mid-western Riverside County) to use in backyard ponds and livestock troughs. Early warm temperatures and drought conditions also can bring higher-than-normal mosquito populations, for example, in areas where drought has reduced flowing water to stagnant ponds.
Residents can take an active role to reduce the West Nile virus threat in their neighborhoods by:
• Protecting against mosquito bites by using insect repellent. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535 according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age, and only in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Lemon eucalyptus oil should not be used on children under age three.
• Being aware of peak mosquito hours. Dawn and dusk are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities planned for those hours.
• Choosing clothes that can help reduce mosquito bites. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors to help keep mosquitoes away from skin.
• Mosquito-proofing your home. Drain standing water, where mosquitos lay their eggs and drain or discard items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty unused flowerpots and wading pools. Change water in birdbaths and pet bowls at least weekly.
• Keeping mosquitoes outside with tight-fitting screens on all windows and doors.
Contact the Riverside County Vector Control program at (951) 766-9454 or your local vector-control district to report mosquito problems, request mosquito fish or report neglected pools or standing water as potential mosquito sources. Visit the department online at http://www.rivcoeh.org/Programs/vector for more information.