GARDEN GROVE ( — As the Southland struggles under drought conditions, officials Thursday gave the public yet another reason not to let water run into the gutter: West Nile Virus.

KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports authorities say water runoff can be a breeding ground for virus-carrying mosquitoes.

Officials with the Orange County Vector Control District (OCVCD), the city of Santa Ana, and the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District met with reporters at the OCVCD headquarters in Garden Grove to provide details on the coordinated response to West Nile Virus in the county, including public health measures being taken to suppress mosquito populations, correct storm water conveyance systems, and raise public awareness.

OCVCD Director of Scientific Technical Services Robert Cummings said while unused backyard pools still remain a big concern, officials are using specially-bred mosquito-eating fish – aptly named “mosquitofish” – to help stem the threat.

“We go to the resident’s home and with permission and put the fish inside the pool,” said Cummings. “The fish will live in the water in the pool and then eat the mosquitoes.”

Roughly 80 percent of mosquitoes recently tested in Orange County carry West Nile, compared to about 10 percent at this time last year, according to Cummings.

State health officials announced Wednesday that California has recorded its first two deaths of the year from the mosquito-borne West Nile virus.

State Department of Public Health Director Ron Chapman said Wednesday that both the people who died were adults, one from Sacramento County and the other from Shasta County.

They were among the 35 Californians who have been diagnosed with West Nile in 2014, according to health officials. Sixteen of the cases were reported to the state this week.

Nine cases of West Nile have reported in Orange County so far this year ahead of what are typically the two biggest months for mosquito bites in the region.

The virus first appeared in North America in 1999 and has spread throughout the U.S. ever since. It is found in nearly every state.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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