Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus in L.A. County

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A field sample of mosquitoes that could carry West Nile Virus is seen at offices of the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health on April 26, 2007, in Hemet. (David McNew/Getty Images)

A field sample of mosquitoes that could carry West Nile Virus is seen at offices of the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health on April 26, 2007, in Hemet. (David McNew/Getty Images)

For the first time this year, mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus in Los Angeles County, officials said Thursday.

The confirmed samples were from mosquito traps in Bellflower (90706), Studio City (91602), and Tarzana (91356), according to a news release from the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District. In addition to the mosquitos, a dead bird found in Valley Village also tested positive.

More samples have been collected, but the results of those are pending.

The discovery of the infected mosquitoes comes amid a steady uptick in West Nile virus activity throughout California recently, according to officials. They noted that the virus is endemic to L.A. County and is detected each summer.

“Our agency will continue monitoring disease activity and keep residents informed so they can protect themselves form mosquito bites during dusk and dawn,” Anais Medina Diaz, the public information officer for GLACVCD, said in the release. “But it is very important to remember that at this time the virus could be anywhere, even though we may not have detected it yet.”

Symptoms of West Nile virus can last for days or even months and include fever, headache, body aches, nausea or a skin rash, the release stated. In more severe cases, the patients may develop a high fever, muscle weakness, neck stiffness, coma or paralysis. The virus is potentially lethal.

About one in five infected individuals will show symptoms, while one out of 150 with virus will need to be treated at a hospital.

“If residents feel they are experiencing symptoms, it is strongly recommended to consult their primary care physician,” officials urged.

People should be proactive against mosquito bites as there is no vaccine against West Nile virus, according to the district.

One protective step that can be taken to deter the pesky bugs is to wear insect repellant. The CDC recommends products with the active ingredients DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Residents can also take steps to mitigate the threat of West Nile virus in their neighborhood. Preventative steps include:

  • Eliminating standing water in clogged rain barrels, gutters, discarded tires, buckets, watering troughs and anything else that holds water for at least a week
  • Properly maintaining swimming pools, spas and ponds
  • Changing water in pet dishes, bird baths and other small containers every week
  • Requesting mosquitofish from the local vector control district, which can be used to keep ornamental ponds free of the insects
  • Wearing EPA-recommended bug repellent in outdoor spaces where mosquitoes could be present
  • Reporting neglected swimming pools to the local vector control district

Residents can contact the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District by dialing 562-944-9656 or visiting the website www.glacvcd.org. More resources can be found at www.tiptosstakeaction.org.

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