Report: California mosquito fogging in jeopardy after new environmental regulations

Disease bearing mosquitoes are no doubt cheering an anti-insecticide federal court ruling.

The Contra Costa Times reports:

As fears grow that an unseasonably warm winter could lead to a severe West Nile virus season in the Bay Area, statewide vector control agencies are facing a huge new obstacle in their fight against the mosquito-borne illness.

Mosquitoes already have awakened from their hibernation, and a late rain could create perfect breeding conditions for West Nile, just as a federal court ruling imposes strict regulations on the use of mosquito-abatement pesticides.

The ruling, which took effect in the fall, requires pesticide use to adhere to the Clean Water Act, meaning seasonal fogging may cease in parts of the Bay Area. That will increase the chances of humans getting infected with the potentially fatal virus, experts say. A bill that would free vector control agencies from these rules is stuck in Congress.

Meanwhile, the agencies are watching closely an infestation of the Asian tiger mosquito in Southern California. This dangerous mosquito can carry not only West Nile but also dengue fever, known as “break-bone fever” because of its accompanying joint and muscle pains. This mosquito was found in Santa Clara County six years ago but was quarantined before it could spread.

Most people bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile experience no symptoms. Twenty to 30 percent, however, will contract West Nile fever and flu-like symptoms, according to the Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District. Since 1999, the U.S. has had more than 30,000 reported human cases, with 1,220 deaths.

“We could definitely see an increase in the number of human cases of West Nile virus,” said Steve Schutz, scientific program manager for the Concord-based agency…

Read the entire report.

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