California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this week stepped up the fight against the deadly West Nile Virus.
The governor issued an executive order Monday broadening the scope of what the 10 million U.S. dollars allocated last month can be spent on in tackling the mosquito-borne disease.
Last month's funding was initially earmarked for mosquito control, surveillance and vegetation management. Prior to that this year, 35 counties received nearly 4.5 million dollars to fight the virus.
Monday's order will allow the money to be used in efforts by local government to expand public education, enhance support to the medical community and promote aggressive surveillance by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in areas with an elevated risk of West Nile Virus transmission.
"Protecting public safety is the government's top job - that's why I'm committed to ensuring our local agencies have all the tools they need to fight this deadly mosquito-borne disease," Schwarzenegger said in a statement e-mailed to Xinhua.
Last month, the governor declared a state of emergency in the counties of Kern, Colusa and San Joaquin, which have witnessed a high incidence of the virus.
Schwarzenegger reminded Californians "to protect themselves against mosquito bites - including getting rid of standing water, wearing insect repellent and staying inside during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active."
The number of people infected this year with the virus is three times higher than during the same time last year. There have been 10 deaths in California, and 198 identified cases in 24 counties so far this year.
Since taking office, prior to signing executive orders last month, Schwarzenegger has handed out more than 15 million dollars to fight the virus.