Don’t Let West Nile Virus Ruin Your Labor Day Weekend

August 29, 2014

Santa Fe Springs, Calif. – This holiday weekend may signal the traditional ‘end of the summer,’ but not for mosquitoes. Local mosquitoes, wild birds, and sentinel chicken flocks continue to test positive for West Nile virus (WNV) in Los Angeles County.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health yesterday reported 8 additional human cases and one death due to WNV, bringing this year’s total to 20 human infections and one death. While the District has seen comparatively lower levels of WNV activity in many parts of Los Angeles County so far this year, that trend could easily change as it has for this District’s neighbors to the south.The Orange County Vector Control District and OC Health Department have been working for several months to contain a serious outbreak of WNV in several Orange County cities.

Despite summer winding down, WNV will continue to be transmitted through bites of infected mosquitoes for several more months. This week, the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD) is reporting an additional 21 positive mosquito samples, 4 dead birds, and 8 chickens (from 2 different flocks) testing positive for WNV.

“West Nile virus can cause serious illness,” notes Truc Dever, GLACVCD general manager. “While we don’t want to discourage our residents from enjoying their holiday with family and friends, we definitely want them to understand the risks, and make sure they are protecting themselves from mosquito bites when spending time outdoors between dusk and dawn.”

The District recommends people use mosquito repellents shown to be most effective, specifically those containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Repellents should always be applied according to label directions. Doors and window screens must be used and in good repair to keep mosquitoes out of the home. Outdoor patio fans can be effective at keeping mosquitoes at bay.

West Nile virus is transmitted to people and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no cure for West Nile virus. One in five persons infected with West Nile virus will exhibit symptoms. Symptoms usually occur between five and 15 days, and can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, or a skin rash. These symptoms can last for several weeks to months. One in 150 people infected with the virus will require hospitalization. Severe symptoms include high fever, muscle weakness, neck stiffness, coma, paralysis, and possibly death.

The public is encouraged to report dead birds to help with West Nile virus surveillance and control efforts because birds play an important role in maintaining and spreading the virus. Visit www.westnile.ca.gov to report dead birds. For more information, please contact the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District at (562) 944- 9656 or visit www.glacvcd.org.