County to spray section of Normal Heights after resident contracts Zika virus

SAN DIEGO -- The county of San Diego announced Wednesday that pesticide will be applied in a section of Normal Heights where Aedes mosquito larvae and adult mosquitoes were discovered near the home of a man who contracted the Zika virus while traveling.

The area is the third to be sprayed in an attempt to prevent Zika from spreading to the Aedes mosquito population, which is capable of transferring tropical diseases to humans. So far, no infected Aedes mosquitoes have been found in San Diego County or California.

The Zika virus began drawing attention earlier this year when some infected pregnant women gave birth to babies with microcephaly, in which their heads and brains are smaller than normal. The 20 percent of infected people who actually get sick usually experience only mild symptoms, according to county officials.

All of the 30-plus cases of Zika in the San Diego region resulted from travel to areas where the disease is prevalent, according to county health officials.

The spraying area on Friday in Normal Heights will be west of Interstate 15, north of Adams Avenue, east of 36th Street and south of Alexia Place. County officials said they were notifying residents Wednesday.

Precautionary sprayings were conducted in South Park last month, and Wednesday and Tuesday in Mount Hope, where county vector control workers met with some protests.

County officials insist that the pesticide, Pyrenone 25-5, poses low risks to people and pets and dissipates in roughly 20-30 minutes.

Residents in the area who want to minimize their exposure can take precautionary steps, including:

-- staying inside and bringing pets indoors if possible;

-- closing doors and windows;

-- turning off fans that bring outdoor air inside the home;

-- covering ornamental fish ponds to avoid direct exposure;

-- rinsing fruits and vegetables from gardens with water before cooking or eating;

-- wiping down or covering outdoor items such as toys; and

-- covering barbecue grills.

Meanwhile, the county reminded people to help control mosquitoes and recognize the Aedes variety.

“It's really important for people to inspect in and around their homes and dump out any standing water that can give these mosquitoes places to multiply,'' said Rebecca Lafreniere, deputy director of the county Department of Environmental Health. “They can breed in the trays under flower pots, in holes in trees, in kids toys on your lawn that can collect sprinkler water -- anything that can collect water.''

Unlike native mosquitoes, the Aedes type likes to live in and around homes and will bite during the daytime, instead of dawn or dusk. They were first found locally in 2014.