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Ventura County

Mosquito Season Heats Up


It is the sound of summer--Bzzzzzzz. Splat!--and a reminder that warm weather provides perfect conditions for blood-sucking mosquitoes and the viruses they can spread when biting humans.

Given potential health risks, the Ventura County Environmental Health Division is advising the public to eliminate backyard water sources where mosquitoes can lay eggs.

Watering troughs, ornamental ponds and neglected swimming pools are common breeding grounds during the hot summer months when mosquito populations can explode.

"It creates a more optimum environment for the mosquitoes," said Randy Smith, the county's supervising environmental health specialist.

"What we look for, and are worried about, are the encephalitis viruses," Smith said. "There is a potential for malaria being transmitted here, too."

Encephalitis, which has different strains, is a mosquito-borne viral disease that affects the central nervous system and causes an inflammation of the brain.

Only one case, of St. Louis encephalitis, has been reported in Ventura County in recent years, Smith said. But other areas of Southern California have experienced outbreaks. Headache, fever and drowsiness are common symptoms. The elderly and children are most at risk.

While rare, West Nile virus is also a concern.

To reduce mosquito populations locally, health officials recommend frequently emptying backyard water containers or stocking ponds with insect-eating fish. Wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants and using bug repellents are recommended to prevent bites.

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