HAWAIIAN GARDENS (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Monday launched the “It’s Not Just a Bite” campaign to warn people about avoiding mosquito-borne viruses, like West Nile and Zika.
Health workers will go door to door to 20,000 homes, businesses and schools to hand out packets to spread the word and help keep people safe from the potentially deadly diseases.
“Summer may have ended last week, but mosquito season has not,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said at news conference in Hawaiian Gardens on Monday.
Just in the last week, 17 new cases of the West Nile virus were reported in L.A. county, bringing the number of cases this year to 98. Six of those led to death.
In Los Angeles County, mosquito season peaks May through November.
So the health department is working with the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District to make people aware of mosquito-borne diseases and take the proper precautions.
Kelly Middleton, vector control’s director of community affairs, said it only takes a 1/4 of an inch of standing water to breed hundreds of mosquitoes.
“We have new invasive mosquitoes that have moved into Southern California. We have quite a few of them in L.A. County – three different species, and they are spreading very rapidly, ” Middleton said.
She also warned of a new type of mosquito that bites even during the day. “These new aedes mosquitos – they are kind of a game changer for us. It’s going to change our way of life in Southern California,” she added.
Experts said that is because they are capable of carrying the Zika virus, which is especially dangerous to pregnant women and known to cause devastating birth defects. This new type of mosquitos survive well here because they lay eggs right above the water line.
“So when that water fills up and gets those eggs wet, they hatch out. And those eggs can remain inside a bucket or trash can for years,” Middleton warned.
Mosquitoes don’t fly very far. So if you are getting bites at home, they are in your yard or possibly your neighbors’, vector control officials explained.
They urge neighbors to work together to get rid of any standing water and wear mosquito repellent when you are outdoors.