Home mortgage delinquencies in Bakersfield, Calif. increased 300 percent in 2007, while cases of West Nile virus almost tripled in the same year, according to a study by UC Davis entomologist William Reisen and colleagues.
The link? Neglected swimming pools and jacuzzis turning green and providing a perfect habitat for mosquitoes. More alarmingly, many of the pools were colonized Culex tarsalis, a species of mosquito usually found in more rural areas, which is better at transmitting West Nile virus than the mosquitoes it has replaced.
This aerial photo from the paper shows green and neglected pools in Bakersfield. The paper is published in the current edition of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Update: The New York Times also reported this story today, and it turns out to have a positive ending: in 2008, there were no human cases of West Nile in Bakersfield, thanks to surveillance and treatment of pools. “This year, they did an excellent job and nipped everything in the bud,” Reisen told the Times.