California Drought Could Cause Higher Cases of West Nile

Post of California Drought Could Cause Higher Cases of West Nile

Last week in California, public officials warned that the drought that has 93% of the state in “severe drought” status could cause higher cases of West Nile in the state this year. That may sound odd since mosquitoes depend on water to breed and thrive, but it’s actually birds that could contribute to the increase of the virus this year. That comes on the heels of preliminary numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January that showed California was still the leader (and by quite a bit) of West Nile cases with 538.

In parts of Southern California, mosquitoes haven’t gone into hibernation. The state has been stuck in a persistent drought, which has tricked mosquitoes into thinking it’s still summer and there’s been no rain fall to flush them out of storm drains, so you’ve got a lot of mosquitoes.  Since they’re breeding at high rates, the trap counts are showing mosquito counts at where they would typically be in June or July.

An estimated 70 to 80 percent of people who contract the West Nile virus show no symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About one in five people who are infected will develop a rash, plus other symptoms like headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting or rash. Less than 1 percent of people infected with the virus will develop a serious neurologic illness, like encephalitis or meningitis, according to the CDC.

If you’re in California, there are some easy precautions you can start taking to make sure you lessen the risk of mosquitoes breeding in your yard.

  • Mosquitos breed in standing water so regularly empty ponds, bird baths, fountains, plant pots, buckets, barrels, tarps, kid toys, pet water dishes or anywhere else that water may gather.
  • Clean out gutters and examine them for damage that would cause water to collect.
  • Drill holes in tire swings, trash cans or recycle bins so water drains out.
  • Keep swimming pools clean, properly circulated and filtered. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.
  • Cut grass and shrubs short, as adult mosquitoes gather to rest in shady, cool areas. Keep your yard weed-free and avoid overgrown vegetation.

And if you’re interested in the Mosquito Joe opportunity, we’d love to hear from you. You could be the neighborhood hero keeping Californians enjoying that perfect weather and staying safe and itch free.

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