Monterey County is experiencing rapidly warming and lengthening days. The light spring rains were just enough to leave standing water in gutters and low places. Stagnant rainwater water left in buckets, birdbaths, and tires is warmed by the sun and becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance but also a public health threat. In California during 2012, there were 479 human cases of West Nile virus, including 19 fatalities. Nationally, there were more West Nile virus infections reported in 2012 than there had been since 2003. Mosquitos also carry other diseases. “Warm weather promotes the breeding of mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus,” Monterey County Interim Health Officer Dr. Caroline Kennedy said. “While no predictions can be made about the severity of West Nile virus this season, Monterey County residents should take precautions now to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
This time of year, mosquitoes breed anywhere and everywhere – in water held by tarps, boat bilges, clogged roof gutters and unmaintained pools, spas and fishponds, as well as ditches, marshes and other natural sites. Ken Klemme, Biologist and Manager of the Northern Salinas Valley Mosquito Abatement District, is focusing on early prevention strategies. "We're anticipating lots of mosquitoes in the sloughs, lakes and coastal marshes, and we are controlling them in the larval stage already. With the combination of the warm weather and all the water in yard containers, we really need the public to do their part and empty any water that might be around their property.” The mosquitoes that hatch now will be the ones that lay eggs and start the cycle going. It is important to diminish the number of mosquitos now to reduce the chance of an infestation later this summer. The district’s main objective is to minimize the disease risk and nuisance to the public created by mosquitoes.
The most effective ways to control mosquito populations and limit the spread of diseases like West Nile virus include:
- Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
- Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
- Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
- Drain any standing water around your home. Standing water pools can be breeding grounds for hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes.
- If you see standing water that you cannot empty or drain, or if you know of a neglected swimming pool, you can contact Mosquito Abatement District at 422-6438. The district provides free mosquito-eating fish.
- The Environmental Health Bureau (EHB) also responds to green swimming pools (public and private), which are safety hazards as well as potential mosquito breeding grounds. The public can call any EHB office to report a green pool: Salinas 755-4508, Monterey 647-7654 and King City 386-6899.
- Report dead birds and squirrels to the West Nile Virus Hotline at 1-877-WNV-Bird or http://www.westnile.ca.gov so that they may be tested for mosquito-borne viruses.
- Spring is also the best time to vaccinate horses against West Nile virus. Contact your local veterinarian for availability and prices.
For more information about how to control mosquito populations in your neighborhood:
Explore the Northern Salinas Valley Mosquito Abatement Districts’ website at http://www.montereycountymosquito.com, call 831-422-6438, or visit their office at 342 Airport Blvd. in Salinas.
For more information about West Nile virus and mosquito-borne illnesses:
Contact the Monterey County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Unit at 831-755-4521 or visit their website at www.mtyhd.org/cd
More West Nile virus information is available at the California Department of Public Health’s West Nile Virus website: www.westnile.ca.gov
Public Information Officer 755-4639
Monterey County Health Department
Northern Salinas Valley Mosquito Abatement District