BY JESSICA TROCHE
Photo Courtesy of Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District. Logo for Fight the Bite 5k. Run mosquitoes out of town.
Fight the bite 5k kicked off during spring break on March 24 at the beautiful Rancho Mirage Community Park. Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control hosted the 3rd annual fight the bite 5k. The race was open to all runners, walkers and all terrain strollers and furry friends. The race was not only competitive, but gave everyone who participated a chance to understand different types of mosquitoes that reside in the valley.
The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control aims at educating the community on safe practices and preventing man-made mosquito breeding grounds. They also are in charge with protecting residents of the Coachella Valley and the public health within the boundaries of vector-borne diseases. Vector takes care of cities such as Coachella, Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Palm Springs and other sections of the Riverside County.
Zika and West Nile are common names that come to mind when someone mentions mosquitoes. One of the invasive mosquitoes, aedes aegypti, is one commonly found in the Coachella Valley. Aedes aegypti was first found locally in Coachella, and has since been reported in Indio, Cathedral City, and Palm Springs.
Fight the bite 5k aims at educating citizens on what to do if mosquitoes are present and how to prevent mosquitoes from producing. The district of Riverside is particularly concerned with the invasive black and white mosquito species that have taken residency in the areas surrounding the Coachella Valley. These species are known for carrying diseases such as Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue.
Gonzalo Valadez, a vector control technician has been with the company for over 7 years and says that the mosquito problem in the valley has only just begun. “I’ve worked in areas such as Thermal, La Quinta and Indio, and have seen such an increase in mosquitoes that carry west nile, zika and yellow fever, that it is extremely important for vector to host such events as fight the bite to not only educate the citizens of the Coachella Valley, but also just so they remain vigilant on how mosquitoes form and what these species look for.”
Fight the bite 5k normally takes place in March, but they continuously have workshops throughout the valley. Vector advises that citizens make sure there is no still standing water in outdoor locations such as dog bowls or plant saucers, be thrown out or cleaned after. To report sightings of such species like black and white mosquitoes, contact the Coachella Valley Vector Control District by calling (760) 342-8247 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.