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Drought Doesn’t Mean Fewer Mosquitoes

San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District confirms West Nile Disease in Pasadena and neighboring communities; warns residents to remain aware

Published on Monday, July 18, 2022 | 12:09 pm

Southern California is experiencing a drought of historic proportions. In fact, some scientists are now referring to this uber-drought as “aridification.” 

While droughts are thought of as somewhat temporary, aridification signals a whole new condition, one that Matthew Kirby, a paleoclimatologist and professor at California State University Fullerton, says, could mean living “under a permanent state of water conservation.”  

Meanwhile, while the summer months can mean mosquitos, a drought doesn’t necessarily mean that their threat is diminished. 

Levy Sun, Communications Director for the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District told Pasadena Now recently that the drought does not translate to any less of a threat of West Nile Disease carried by mosquitoes. 

“Unfortunately, no,” said Levy. “There’s always going to be some kind of stagnant water somewhere in the city, whether it’s in the storm drain, or if it’s in someone’s backyard in a plant saucer. There will always be enough water to have mosquitoes be present, which is why even during a drought, we can still see a lot of virus activities and a lot of mosquito activities. So the best defense against these mosquitoes — whether we’re experiencing a drought or not  — is to use mosquito repellent.”

In fact , said Levy, West Nile virus  was confirmed in Pasadena this past June, and more recently was also confirmed in adjacent San Marino and Aarcadia (as well as in Irwindale, San Gabriel, South Pasadena, and El Monte). 

“So the West Nile virus is circulating in our cities right now,” said Levy. “Higher temperatures allow the virus to replicate faster. If it’s replicating faster, it’s spreading more quickly through the bird population, and then to the mosquitoes, and unfortunately, to people when the mosquitoes bite us.”

Levy explained that West Nile virus is essentially a bird disease which originally circulated between birds and mosquitoes, but because of urbanization in Pasadena and the rest of Southern California, “mosquitoes don’t always bite (just) the birds.”

When a bird has West Nile virus, it spreads to the mosquito by way of that bite by the mosquito. 

“The mosquito then bites a person and in doing so, there’s a chance of that person getting West Nile virus,” said Levy. 

While most common symptoms of West Nile virus are chills, fever, and body aches, about one in 150 people will actually be hospitalized from West Nile virus, he added. 

“So it is a very important disease to be aware of,” Levy continued. “We’re not asking folks to panic, but to be more vigilant around their homes so they can stay bite-free.”

Local residents can find out more about the dangers of West Nile Disease, or submit a tip regarding a mosquito problem in their community here, or may contact the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District at (626) 814-9466.

For more information about how you prevent mosquitoes, click here.

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