Amid mosquito season during the pandemic, Los Angeles County officials are reminding residents that these insects are not a vector for COVID-19 but that people should continue to practice solutions to reduce their populations.
The southern region has been hard hit by mosquitoes and, to date, 25 samples have been positive for West Nile Virus across multiple communities countywide, according to the Greater L.A. County Vector Control District.
L.A. County Department of Public Health reported its first West Nile virus death of the season on Wednesday — an elderly resident of the South L.A. area.
No positive samples have been reported in the Santa Clarita Valley, but Vector Control has received several complaints about mosquitoes, many about a new species: the Aedes mosquitoes, which are commonly known as the Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito.
The yellow fever mosquito’s habitat tends to be in “urban environments indoors and outdoors in containers that can hold water,” while the Asian tiger roams in “lucky bamboo plants in nurseries and man-made containers,” according to Vector Control’s website.
“Greater Los Angeles County is also home to invasive Aedes mosquitoes, which can transmit Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever viruses,” read the website.
These mosquitoes also tend to bite in the daytime and fly low around the ankles, according to Mary-Joy Coburn, director of Community Affairs at Vector Control.
Santa Clarita resident Vanessa Williamson said she grew concerned when her husband’s legs became very swollen after being bitten multiple times recently by what mosquito control inspectors with the county told her was “the tiger mosquito.”
“Both his legs looked like he’s been through a war zone,” she said. While her husband did not present any related symptoms, such as fever, she did question whether mosquitoes could transfer COVID-19 amid the pandemic.
“It is important to remember that COVID-19 is not transmitted through the bite of a mosquito,” according to Vector Control’s website. “However, other viruses, such as West Nile virus, can be. Therefore, residents are asked to be proactive in the coming weeks while they stay close to home by eliminating mosquito sources around and inside their property, especially after a rain event.”
As recommended at the Williamsons’ household, Public Health suggests residents take precautions against mosquitoes.
“We encourage residents to check for items that can hold water and breed mosquitoes, both inside and outside their homes, and to cover, clean or clear out those items. Residents should protect themselves from diseases spread by mosquitoes by using EPA-registered mosquito repellent products, especially during the peak mosquito season which lasts from June to November in Los Angeles County,” county Health Officer Muntu Davis said in a statement.