West Nile: Labeled 'endemic' in Los Angeles County

Officials have warned residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites after dozens of dead birds and mosquito samples -- including three reported in Burbank -- tested positive for West Nile virus in Los Angeles County last month, authorities said.

A dead bird and two mosquito samples collected locally tested positive for the virus, adding to the more than 260 positive mosquito samples and 63 dead birds reported in the district which includes Burbank and Glendale this year, according to the Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

“This should be a sign that West Nile virus is widespread in L.A. County,” said Levy Sun, a spokesman for the district, adding that the virus “is endemic to [Southern California,] which means it is here to stay and it will occur every year.”

The first and only other time the virus was detected in Burbank this year was in mid-July, when one mosquito sample tested positive. .

The virus is transmitted to people and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. According to vector control statistics, 20% of people infected with the virus will exhibit symptoms — including fever, headache, body aches, nausea or a skin rash — which usually occur between five and 15 days after being bitten.

Officials warned residents to dump and drain standing water — which is where mosquitoes breed — on their property. They should also avoid outdoor activities during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active and wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts as well as insect repellent when outdoors.

Residents should continue to take precautions well into the fall because the virus is reportedly active until late October, Sun said.

“Just because summer goes away, doesn’t mean West Nile goes away. As long as there’s standing water, there will be mosquito breeding,” Sun said.

As of last Thursday, 54 human infections were reported in Los Angeles County this year, including three fatalities, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

To report a dead bird, call the California Department of Public Health at (877) WNV-BIRD.


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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