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Is the Housing Crisis a Public Health Nuisance?

Public-health officials in northern California are worried that foreclosed and abandoned homes — at least the ones with swimming pools — might become a breeding ground for mosquitoes that could carry West Nile virus. From a Mercury News article:

Worried health officials will embark today on an aerial search for backyard, watery havens for mosquitoes that potentially carry the deadly virus — with special attention to the 150 foreclosed homes with pools.

A survey plane, equipped with a digital camera and a global positioning system, will fly at an altitude of 5,000 feet over parts of San Jose, Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Gatos, Morgan Hill, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga.

The telltale sign of a neglected pool is color. Aqua blue is good and clean. Green or brown is not.

“It’s an unfortunate predicament that people are in,” said Tim Mulligan, manager of Santa Clara County’s Vector Control District, referring to the impact of foreclosures on the maintenance of swimming pools.

“One of the first things to go bye-bye for a resident in foreclosure is pool maintenance,” he said. “It’s a drain on their resources.”

Last year, four county residents were infected with the West Nile virus. No cases have been reported this year, although officials have found one bird dead from the virus at an industrial park in Santa Clara, Mulligan said.

(Hat tip: Hunter Walk.)