Please Drain the Pool On Your Way Out!

It appears that foreclosure can be hazardous to your health in the O.C.– even if you’re not the one losing your house. Foreclosed families are leaving their swimming pools to stagnate, providing an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, particularly those that cause West Nile virus.news-pools220.jpg

The Orange County Register reported in this story that there have been 10 human cases of West Nile virus this season, compared to 29 statewide.

“We’ve got more positive mosquitoes than we’ve ever had, and a higher infection rate (in mosquitoes) than we’ve ever had,” said Orange County Vector Control District spokesman Michael Hearst.

Similar levels are being detected in Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, as well as the Antelope Valley, according to Hearst and other animal disease specialists.

As of early August, when the story was written, 556 dead birds in Southern California had tested positive for the virus. West Nile affects mainly birds, although the elderly and those with compromised immune system are susceptible.

Orange County’s vector control agency, as well as others, say an explosion of “green pools” – swimming pools that have been abandoned, many because of foreclosures – are likely helping to drive up infection rates in animal populations as well.

To protect yourself, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves, and make sure your window screens are in good shape. (Click here for more tips.) If you know of an abandoned swimming pool, click here to report it to the Orange County Vector Control District. For more information on the virus, including how to report a possibly infected dead bird, click here.

Meanwhile, Orange County was one of five Southern California counties whose July sales of existing homes increased year-over-year, according to this news release from DataQuick. Sales volume rose 17% over last July’s, which most experts attribute to bargain-hunters snapping up foreclosure properties.  The median price for an O.C. home dropped to $461,000, down 28% from a year ago. We’ll need to see several straight months of this to determine whether we have a trend, but it’s a hopeful sign.

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