LANCASTER – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has reported the first human cases of West Nile virus in the Antelope Valley for 2016, authorities said.
One case is a male blood donor who lives in Lancaster and has no symptoms, and the other is a female resident of Palmdale who fell ill, according to a news release from the Antelope Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District (AVMVCD).
The AVMVCD also reported that a second bird found in West Palmdale tested positive last week, bringing the total West Nile virus activity in the Antelope Valley to nine sentinel chickens, two dead birds and two human cases. [View a WNV activity map here.]
“We have detected West Nile virus in our sentinel chickens since mid-June, so while the human infections are a concern, it is not a surprise,” stated District Manager Cei Kratz. “In response to these reports, our technicians are setting traps in those areas and increasing larval surveillance to identify and treat any unknown mosquito breeding sources, such as unkempt swimming pools.”
The District urges local residents to stay safe by using mosquito repellents while outdoors in the evenings and early mornings — that’s when mosquitoes that potentially carry the virus are most active. Residents can also do their part by removing standing water, which can harbor mosquito larvae on their property.
West Nile virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Although most people that are infected do not show any symptoms, West Nile virus is a potentially debilitating disease. Even mild cases of West Nile fever can cause patients enormous pain and discomfort for months. Though deaths are rare and typically involve patients who are already vulnerable, the virus can also cause paralysis, encephalitis and meningitis.
The total number of West Nile virus human cases in Los Angeles County to date is 17, which includes 14 clinical cases and three asymptomatic blood donors, health officials said.
The California Department of Public Health, as of Aug. 12, reported West Nile Virus activity from 35 counties in 910 dead birds, 2,221 mosquito samples, and 135 sentinel chickens, as well as 22 human cases with one fatality.
District officials 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. You can find some great guides here: https://www.globosurfer.com/best-robotic-pool-cleaners.
- 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 dirty 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.]
Previous related stories: