Dead bird found in Stevenson Ranch tests positive.
While it’s good to be first in many circumstances, this is not one of them; the Santa Clarita Valley has been confirmed as one of the first areas to host the West Nile Virus (WNV) disease in Los Angeles County in 2010.
A dead bird found in Stevenson Ranch has tested positive for the disease, which can infect humans and is potentially fatal. The local bird, along with another found in Silver Lake, mark the start of the 2010 West Nile season in LA County.
“These two West Nile virus positive dead birds are evidence that West Nile virus continues to persist in Los Angeles,” said Director of Scientific-Technical Services Susanne Kluh, who works for the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD).
The biggest scourge in the battle to prevent West Nile Virus is the mosquito population. The insects are the primary form of transportation for the disease, which is commonly found in birds. While some birds die from WNV, others show no signs of infection. Mosquitoes contract the disease by feasting on infected birds, and they can transmit it to humans or horses by biting them.
As a result, officials from the GLACVCD are trying to combat any areas that can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. These include all areas with an excess of stagnant water like street gutters, neglected swimming pools and backyard containers. The idea is to limit the number of mosquitoes, thereby limiting the risk of human or horse infection.
WNV can cause severe illness related to Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Saint Louis encephalitis (SLE). Most people will never show signs of infection, and may not get sick. Those who do become ill, however, can face life threatening problems as a result.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus include fever, headache, rash, muscle weakness, nausea and vomiting. Some of the infected can also suffer from neurological disorders.
In 2008 LA County reported 160 cases of WNV in humans resulting in six deaths. No horses were infected in 2008. 25 people contracted WNV in 2009, along with one horse. The disease was blamed on one human death that year.
To help prevent the spread of West Nile Virus, residents are urged to report mosquito breeding grounds and all sightings of dead birds. For contact information, click one of the links below: