LANCASTER – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has identified the first human case West Nile virus infection in the Antelope Valley for the 2021 season, officials announced Monday.
“Although the Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District identifies the presence of West Nile virus every year in some form, this is the time of year when potential human transmission is at the peak,” said District Entomologist Karen Mellor.
West Nile virus continues to be a serious health threat to residents in the Antelope Valley, and authorities are encouraging residents to get rid of items that can hold water and breed mosquitoes both inside and outside the home.
Humans get WNV through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most mosquitoes do not carry the virus; therefore, most people bitten by a mosquito are not exposed to WNV. Those who do get WNV may experience mild symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, and tiredness. In some cases — especially in persons over 50 years of age and those with chronic medical conditions such as cancer and diabetes — severe WNV infection can occur and affect the brain and spinal cord, causing meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis and even death.
There is no specific treatment for WNV and no vaccine to prevent infection. Authorities say the best protection is mosquito-bite prevention. Stagnant swimming pools or “green pools” should be reported to the Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District at 661-942-2917. Dead birds may be reported by calling 877-968-2473 or online at westnile.ca.gov/report.php.
Local residents are encouraged to decrease their risk of exposure to West Nile virus by taking the following precautions:
— Use repellant. Mosquito repellents can keep mosquitoes from biting. EPA-registered repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus are the longest lasting and most effective. They are available as sprays, wipes, and lotions.
— Wear protective clothing. Consider wearing long-sleeved clothes and pants when outside.
— Mosquito proof your home. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
— Get rid of standing water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Check for items that hold water inside and outside your home once a week. Cover water storage containers such as buckets and rain barrels. If no lid is available, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito. Dump out standing water in flowerpots, saucers, birdbaths and other containers at least weekly
— Clean pools. Clean and maintain swimming pools and spas, and drain water from pool covers.
For more information and resources, visit publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/VectorWestNile.htm.
[Information via news release from the Antelope Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District.]