LANCASTER – Chickens from sentinel flocks in Palmdale and Lancaster have tested positive for West Nile Virus, according to the Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District. Five chickens from a flock in West Palmdale near 50th Street West and Avenue N and two chickens at a coop near Division and H-8 in Lancaster have seroconverted, which means their blood shows antibodies to the virus, AVMVCD officials said. [View a map showing local WNV activity here.]
“The recent heat has been perfect for mosquitoes to develop quickly and spread the virus,” stated District Manager Cei Kratz. “Mosquitoes only take five days to develop from egg to adult, and standing water turns green in no time.”
The District contracted with an aerial surveillance company to take pictures of the area last month, and officials identified 1,000 swimming pools that looked suspicious. Teams are following up to make sure property owners either maintain or drain pools to avoid creating mosquito habitats, according to the District.
Residents should remove stagnant water from around their yards, since that’s where mosquitoes lay eggs. Birdbaths, water fountains, small toys or trash bags left outside may retain water from sprinklers, making them a potential mosquito source, officials said.
The California Department of Public Health as of July 7 reported that 51 dead birds, 490 mosquito samples, and two sentinel chickens (not including the ones in Lancaster and Palmdale) have tested positive for West Nile Virus. Three human cases of West Nile Virus were reported in the Los Angeles, Kern, and Kings counties, according to the California Department of Public Health.
The AVMVCD is seeking the public’s help in tracking down any occurrences of invasive mosquitoes, such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, in the Antelope Valley. These mosquitoes transmit diseases like Zika virus and Dengue fever and have already been found in Southern California and the Central Valley – as close as the San Fernando Valley.
The District urges residents to report mosquitoes that bite during the day so authorities can conduct follow up surveillance to find possible infestations.
Authorities are urging residents to follow these tips to avoid getting mosquito bites and West Nile virus infection:
- Check your property for any standing water from sprinklers or thunder showers, and dump or drain all standing water.
- Keep swimming pools maintained or completely dry.
- Dress in light-colored long-sleeved clothes during mosquito activity. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn.
- Defend against mosquitoes by use repellents (i.e., DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535).
- Keep screen doors and windows in good repair and close them.
- Turn on fans to keep mosquitoes away.
- Don’t use bug zappers near your patio – they attract more mosquitoes than they kill.
- Vaccinate your horses properly.
- Report stagnant pools and other backyard sources to the AVMVCD at 661-942-2917.
- Report dead birds by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.
To stay up-to-date on West Nile Virus activity and mosquito-related information in the Antelope Valley, visit www.avmosquito.org or contact the Antelope Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District at 661-942-2917.
[Information via news release from the Antelope Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District.]