Mosquitoes collected in Canyon Country by the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District tested positive for West Nile Virus. Truc Dever, Director of Community Affairs at the GLACVCD, says that WNV is “endemic, meaning it is here to stay” since it first appeared in Southern California in 2003.
Mosquitoes carrying WNV were also recently found in Panorama City and Whittier. Two dead birds infected with WNV were found in Whittier and Reseda.
The GLACVCD uses a comprehensive mosquito surveillance program involving mosquito traps placed in strategic locations. The trapped mosquitoes are regularly tested to identify potential mosquito breeding grounds so that the GLACVCD can treat the sights.
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“The public should be aware that WNV is out there. Whenever we get warm temperatures, we get more mosquito activity, and a higher risk of WNV transmission.” Dever said.
Mosquito bites can be avoided by wearing long sleeve shirts and pants while outdoors, using mosquito repellents, checking that screens on doors and windows do not have any holes or tears, and dumping out standing water near the house. Neglected pools can be reported to the GLACVCD so that they can treat it to prevent mosquito breeding.
Dever said that there have been no identified human cases of WNV in LA County, though there have been cases in California this year.
“Most people don’t even show symptoms of WNV. If they do, it is usually mild flu-like symptoms. It is generally the elderly or young children who might have lowered immune systems that may be susceptible to a more severe form of WNV. But it is actually a very small percentage of people who get WNV who become very ill from it.” Dever said.
According to the GLACVCD website, less than one percent of people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. Eighty percent of people infected with WNV will have no symptoms, and up to twenty percent may have mild symptoms.
Mild symptoms may include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands, or a skin rash on the chest, stomach, and back. Sever symptoms include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.
Dever suggest that if you are bit by a mosquito and notice flu-like symptoms within one or two weeks, to contact your physician. A blood test can determine if it is WNV and though there is no cure, physicians can treat the symptoms.
For more information about WNV in California, visit www.westnile.ca.gov.