LANCASTER – The Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District reports that 14 more sentinel chickens have tested positive for West Nile Virus. The infected chickens are located throughout the Antelope Valley, including Lancaster, Quartz Hill and Palmdale, said District Entomologist Karen Mellor.
The chickens “sero-converted,” which means the blood tests taken from them showed antibodies to the West Nile Virus, indicating that an infected mosquito bit them.
“Chickens don’t actually get sick from the virus, which makes them an ideal early warning system without hurting them,” said District Manager Cei Kratz. “The increase of positive chickens tells us that there are infectious mosquitoes in the AV and everybody should do their part, to avoid them.”
Wednesday’s thunderstorm and rain created standing water and puddles that could create mosquito habitat. District officials are urging residents to dump and drain standing water on their property to avoid further mosquito problems.
They also provided the following 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.
- 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).
- Turn on fans to keep mosquitoes away.
- Keep screen doors and windows in good repair and close them.
- Don’t use bug zappers near your patio – they attract more mosquitoes than they kill.
- Get free mosquito-eating fish (Gambusia affinis) for fish ponds, pools and horse troughs.
- Vaccinate your horses properly.
- Report stagnant pools and other backyard sources to the AVMVCD.
- Report dead birds by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.
West Nile Virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people who are infected do not show any symptoms, however, West Nile Virus is a potentially debilitating disease. Even mild cases of West Nile fever can cause patients enormous pain and discomfort for months. Older adults and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk for complications than others. In 2013, West Nile Virus contributed to the death of a West Lancaster man in his 70s. [Read more here.]
The California Department of Public Health, as of Sept. 9, reported West Nile Virus activity from 40 counties in 701 dead birds, 2,303 mosquito samples, and 193 sentinel chickens, as well as 108 human cases with two fatalities.
To stay up-to-date on West Nile Virus activity and mosquito-related information in the Antelope Valley, visit www.avmosquito.org.
For more information, call 661-942-2917.
[Information via news release from the Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.]
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