West Nile Virus Spraying Snafu Bugs County

Visions of Keystone Cops or Benny Hill players bumping into one another in aircraft over the skies of Orange County fill one's head upon learning aerial spraying the past two nights of pesticide to control the West Nile Virus was scrubbed for the rest of the season because the contractor the county hired failed to get permits.


Yes, just a month after county health officials revealed a 51-year-old man had been the first reported case of West Nile Virus this year, Orange County Mosquito Vector Control District confirmed the permit snafu that it blamed on aircraft contractor Clarke.

“We were given confident statements that those (permits) had been secured and there would be no issue,” said vector control spokesman Jared Dever through City News Service, adding the agency checked with Clarke “multiple times” since a pact was signed with the company in March.

But what should have been a routine check Wednesday night revealed no permits had been obtained to spray in a zone over Anaheim. 'Cause only Mother Nature gets a pass to rain on the Disney fireworks display. Presumably.

The moment of Do'h! produced a last-minute hail Mary to air traffic controllers, who swatted the request away.

Clarke spokeswoman Laura McGowan admit claimed the company could not reserve specific air space long in advance, explaining all the changing variables make obtaining a permit a “moving target” based on availability of pilots, aircraft and traffic from other planes. She even blamed Labor Day for mucking things up.

Which makes one wonder if Clarke brought this up when bidding on the contract to spray on specific days right after Labor Day over Orange, Tustin, Villa Park and parts of Anaheim, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Stanton.

Vector control officials now say they'll step up the ground war against the pesky pests. Hope Obama didn't send the troops home early.

Email: mc****@oc******.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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