Responding to a rising number of West Nile virus- infected mosquitoes in the area, vector-control officials plan to spray insecticide from trucks in select Indio and Coachella neighborhoods later this week.
According to the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, two batches of infected mosquitoes were trapped in the valley over the past four days. The number of infected mosquitoes trapped this spring is double the five-year average, and four times as many were caught in April compared to the same month last year, district officials said.
Two weeks ago, insecticide was sprayed from helicopters over select areas in response to the discovery of infected mosquitoes. But in light of the most recent discovery, vector-control officials plan to do another round of spraying nightly from Thursday through Saturday, this time from trucks.
The insecticide is not toxic to humans, and it will be sprayed in a mist in such low volumes that it will not present harm to any animals larger than an insect, CVMVCD spokeswoman Jill Oviatt said.
The insecticide will be sprayed in 12-hour shifts starting at 8 p.m. each night in order to avoid killing off any bees, officials said.
In Coachella, the spraying will occur in the areas of Avenue 52, Tyler Street, Avenue 54 and Calle Empalme, officials said, while applications in Indio will include the areas of Terra Lago Parkway, Harrison Street, Avenue 44, Aztec Street and Vista del Oro.
Agricultural areas and bodies of water will be excluded from the insecticide application.
“Although mosquito control pesticides and the techniques used pose low risks, the district recommends that people who want to avoid exposure as a best practice, stay inside or away from the application area during and for 30 minutes following the application,” CVMVCD officials said. “Signs will be posted along the route informing residents of the control efforts.”
No human West Nile virus infections have been reported this year in Riverside County, nor anywhere else in the state, according to the California Department of Public Health. In 2018, more than 200 WNV infections were documented statewide, 11 of them fatal, state officials said.
Mosquitoes typically become carriers of the virus after feeding on an infected bird, and they can then spread the potentially lethal strain to animals and humans. Those at greatest risk include seniors and individuals with compromised immune systems.
Symptoms may never materialize, but can result in fever, headache, nausea, body aches, skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes.
Mosquito season in Southern California generally spans from May to October. To reduce exposure to mosquitoes carrying WNV, yellow fever, Zika and other diseases, residents are urged to:
— spend as little time as possible outdoors at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are generally on the move;
— wear pants and long-sleeved shirts during outdoor activity;
— use insect repellent;
— ensure door and window screens are fitted properly to keep bugs out; and
— get rid of standing water, aside from pools properly treated with chemicals.
Coachella Valley residents with questions or concerns were encouraged to contact the CVMVCD at 760-342-8287.