There is an increased risk of West Nile virus transmission to humans in parts of Orange County, officials announced Friday.
The Orange County Vector Control District (OCVCD) have identified several areas in the northwestern portion of the City of Santa Ana where the risk may have increased ; they found 27 mosquito samples and 8 dead birds in this area in a six-week period that tested positive for West Nile virus.
Approximately 70 percent of the total positive samples collected in all of Orange County came from this region during this six-week period, from May 22 to July 3.
One person from the Santa Ana area has also tested positive for West Nile Virus.
As a precaution, officials are now targeting mosquitos that live underground in the city storm drain.
OCVCD officials said that the lack of rain has created an underground lagoon beneath streets such as Alona Street, where a quarter-mile of pipe filled with water should be flushing naturally out to sea, but is instead filled with mosquitos.
According to officials, for every mosquito above ground that tests positive for West Nile virus, there are ten times more testing positive underground.
Experts say the chemicals used in the past to remove mosquitos from underneath the ground were not enough to rid the area of infected insects, so for the first time, they are sucking them out of the city storm drain and hauling the runoff water away.
The underground region has been referred to as “mosquito heaven.”
“The underground system is a constant temperature, relatively constant humidity, the water source is very, constant and is re-wetted by our activities as residents,” OCVCD official Jared Dever said.
To guard themselves from the threat, residents are encouraged to dump any standing water, repair window screens, wear insect repellent and to not overwater the lawn, as the water will in turn go back into the storm drains and refill the place where mosquitos like to live.
“It's kinda scary. Now I'm gonna be watching out for mosquitoes,” Santa Ana resient Cassandra Gomez said.
Mosquitos in Los Angeles County have tested positive for West Nile virus in areas such as Panorama City, North Hills and Encino.