A Los Angeles public health agency overseeing vector control has reported mosquito samples positive for West Nile virus, cautioning residents to take preventive steps.
“West Nile virus is detected every summer by local public health agencies because it is endemic to Los Angeles County,” said Susanne Kluh, director of Scientific-Technical Services at the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District, in a release posted Thursday. “This virus is spread through our bird population and transmitted to humans through the bite [of] an infected mosquito.”
Positive samples were gathered from mosquito traps in areas including Studio City and Tarzana, officials said, noting that a dead bird in the district also tested positive for West Nile virus.
“Our agency will continue monitoring disease activity and treat affected areas to prevent a disease outbreak,” said Anais Medina Diaz, public information officer for the agency, in a statement. “But it is very important residents take precautions against mosquitoes and monitor for any symptoms of West Nile virus if they experience mosquito bites while outdoors during dusk and dawn.”
Most people infected with West Nile virus don’t feel sick. However, one in five infected people typically develop a fever and other symptoms such as headache, vomiting or rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated one in 150 infected people develop a severe, potentially fatal, illness affecting the brain and spinal cord. Serious symptoms include high fever, muscle weakness, neck stiffness, coma and paralysis, Los Angeles officials said.
There is no human vaccine to prevent illness from West Nile virus. To avoid West Nile virus, remove standing water in buckets and clogged gutters, apply insect repellent, cover up with long-sleeved shirts and long pants and keep mosquitoes out of the home by shutting windows and using the air conditioner or screened windows and doors, the CDC advises.
For more information on mosquito-borne illness and prevention, click here.