Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Along with sunburns, summertime brings risk of West Nile Virus

Lance Cpl. Mike Atchue

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Southern California is renowned for its year-round mild weather, and residents often increase their outdoor activities during the warm summer months. Although most are aware of the sun’s harmful rays, many often forget about the pesky mosquitoes that can spread more than just an annoying itch.

The main disease of concern every summer, due to the population increase of mosquitoes, is the West Nile Virus (WNV). The disease was first reported in California in 2003 and is the most prevalent mosquito-borne disease in the United States.

The ailment is only spread from the bite of infected mosquitoes; therefore, it is important to learn about the behavior of mosquitoes in order to reduce the number of mosquitoes near your home and to protect yourself and others from bites.

San Diego County’s Department of Environmental Health offers the following tips in preventing mosquito breeding and bites.

To help prevent the number of mosquitoes near your home it is best to dump out water that has been sitting around for more than three days in items such as buckets, tires, plant saucers, bird baths, pet water bowls and children’s pools. Mosquitoes only need a half inch of standing water to lay eggs, which can hatch in as soon as two days.

Mosquitoes are most likely to bite during dawn and dusk, so it is best to stay inside during those times. However, if that’s not possible, apply insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus before going outdoors. Apply it to all skin not covered by clothing. It can also be sprayed onto clothing for extra protection. Long sleeves and pants are recommended.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 150 people infected with WNV develop a severe illness. Symptoms include: high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. Twenty percent of people infected develop milder symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or skin rash. About 80 percent of people infected show no symptoms. WNV can however, be a potentially life-altering and even fatal disease.

Camp Pendleton officials have taken measures to protect base occupants from WNV.

“West Nile Virus ‘larvaciding’ commenced the last week of April,” said Lt. Col. Todd A. Kerzie, facilities maintenance officer, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Larvacide is accomplished by spreading environmentally friendly larvacide pellets utilizing a helicopter. It is applied to large standing bodies of water around Camp Pendleton such as Lake O’Neill, Las Pulgas Lake, the mouth of the Santa Margarita River in Del Mar, and San Onofre Creek near San Onofre Beach.

“Larvaciding will continue on a 28-day cycle through October,” said Kerzie. “Additionally, Base Facilities Maintenance Division will also ‘fog’ for adult mosquitoes when conditions are warranted. Command’s and families can also assist in controlling the mosquito population by limiting excessive lawn and garden watering,” he added.

To further help maintain awareness, the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health has created a text message system to help alert residents when WNV has been detected in their neighborhoods.

By texting PEST to 75309, residents can get messages sent to their cell phones with information about WNV, including locations where birds and mosquitoes have tested positive as well as tips on how to prevent the disease, cell phone carrier charges may apply.

For more information, visit The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at or the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health’s website at

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