WEST NILE VIRUS
Help needed with California state-wide West Nile virus threat
By Don Burns
Don Burns is president and CEO of the California Spa and Pool Education Council (SPEC) www.calspec.org..
Adding significantly to California's present West Nile Virus outbreak threat are thousands of potentially stagnant swimming pools and spas at homes abandoned following lender foreclosures.
Although this year there has only been one human virus infection in the state thus far, birds, horses and a number of other animals have been killed or sickened by the deadly virus' recent spread. The virus is carried by mosquitoes, which require standing water for their larva to develop. Needed action: Prevent water stagnation.
In cooperation with the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California (MVCAC), an organization of local government vector control and mosquito abatement agencies, the state's swimming pool industry is asking the cooperation of its members in the current campaign to locate and report standing bodies of water where mosquitoes can breed.
Abandoned swimming pools and spas are a major concern of the state's vector control agencies. Pool industry professionals are in an excellent position to provide information on shut-down pools. When a house has had its power turned off and its pool has been left without maintenance, it should be reported to the local vector control office as soon as possible. Local abatement officers can then go to the pool and release mosquito fish into the water. The fish feed on mosquito larva and remove the threat of West Nile Virus spreading.
SPEC members are asked to report any abandoned pools they find in their daily work. The MVCAC's web site has a listing of all California control district offices, their telephone numbers and email addresses for pool service technicians to use for reporting abandoned pools. The web site address for the local directory is: www.mvcac.org/agencies.htm. You are urged to go on the Internet and contact the vector control office in your area so that alerts can be sent quickly when a problem pool is discovered.
Several agencies, such as the Sacramento-Yolo Counties Vector Control District, have resources which allow them to do helicopter fly-over photography operations to spot untreated home pools. But even these few better funded districts cannot afford to photograph large areas on a daily basis. As a result, SPEC members can provide considerable help in the present health risk emergency