SAN FRANCISCO – Two plagues in California, fires and foreclosures, may be increasing the risk of another: West Nile virus.
Northern California wildfires have sullied the air in the Sacramento area so badly that officials there have held off aerial spraying of insecticide to combat the spread of the virus, which is transmitted to humans and animals by infected mosquitoes.
At the same time, water standing in backyard pools at abandoned, foreclosed properties has created a breeding ground for mosquitoes, raising the risk of West Nile infection.
The state has confirmed three human cases of West Nile in California so far this year – two in Stanislaus County, in the Central Valley south of Sacramento, and one in Tulare County, farther south in the valley.
The rate of infected mosquitoes in the Sacramento area is “pretty high – more than 10 in 1,000,” making West Nile a significant concern, said David Brown, president of the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California.