County vector control officials said the presence of Aedes agypti mosquitoes in Indio has prompted a round of larval mosquito treatments via helicopter starting this week, with the applications set to cover 550 acres throughout the city.
The mosquito was initially found in Indio in October, according to Jill Oviatt, the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District’s public information manager. It was also detected in Cathedral City and Coachella within the last year.
Aedes agypti mosquitoes, which are not native to California, are capable of transmitting Zika virus, dengue fever and chikungunya, Oviatt said.
The viruses are not being transmitted in the region, but control efforts are being undertaken to remove the mosquito from the Coachella Valley before it becomes established in the area, Oviatt said.
Door-to-door inspections and truck-mounted applications have been conducted in Indio since the mosquito was initially detected four months ago.
The aerial applications are planned for an area bounded by Monroe Street, Indio Boulevard, Golf Center Parkway and Interstate 10, which officials say encompasses about 1,600 properties.
The weekly applications will begin from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Saturday and continue each Saturday until March 4. Subsequent spraying applications are planned for every other Saturday, including March 18, April 1, and April 15.
The control product, VectoBac WDG, is environmentally friendly, is approved for application on organic crops and has no effect on people or pets at the amounts used for mosquito control, Oviatt said.
Spraying application routes and times can be found at http://www.cvmvcd.org/controlactivities.htm .
The public is urged to inspect yards for standing water sources and to drain water that may have collected beneath potted plants, in bird baths or anywhere else water might collect. Laid eggs can remain viable in dry areas for months, according to Oviatt.
Residents who are bitten by mosquitoes should report the bites to the district. Those just returning from travel in areas where dengue, chikungunya or Zika is found should contact their doctor if they experience fever, headache, joint or muscle pain. Those who are experiencing those symptoms were warned to stay indoors and to avoid mosquito bites.