PHOENIX - That green pool in the backyard near the tall weeds of the foreclosed house that hasn't been lived in for several months has become a major mosquito breeding ground, health officials say.
Maricopa County health officials are bracing for an unprecedented surge in mosquito-infested swimming pools this summer, as foreclosures and temperatures rise.
Complaints about algae-laden green pools behind vacant or abandoned homes have increased almost 250 percent since a year ago, rising to 2,069 during the first five months of 2008 compared with 597 during the same period in 2007, said Johnny Dilone, spokesman for Maricopa County Environmental Services.
As mortgage lenders force delinquent mortgage borrowers to give up their homes, housing-market analysts predict a steady rise in abandoned residential properties.
With no one around tiny disease-carrying squatters take up residence in murky green abandoned swimming pools throughout metro Phoenix, adding serious public-health concerns to the growing list of problems related to home foreclosures.
Delinquent borrowers are urged to drain swimming pools before surrendering their house keys to the bank. "It's easier for us to treat it if it's drained," said John Townsend, manager of the Vector Control Program in Maricopa County.
Neglecting mosquito infested swimming pools is illegal.
Failing to comply with an order to eliminate potential mosquito pools on private property is a Class 3 misdemeanor, Townsend said.