West Nile virus goes local

Jennifer Jackson
Staff Writer

The San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District identified West Nile virus on Aug. 12 in La Verne.

Mosquito traps were placed in Golden Hills Wilderness Park and tested positive for the virus. The virus is transmitted from the bite of infected mosquitos, which originally become infected after biting diseased birds.

“We have had a light year with West Nile in the San Gabriel Valley; lightest in a long time,” said Jason Farned, public information officer for the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District.

“The best way to prevent mosquito bites is to prevent breeding. Every few days residents should survey their yard and remove standing water and be on the lookout at public spaces,” he said.

Farned said another way to prevent mosquito bites is to wear repellent, especially during the hours between dusk and dawn when mosquitos are out. It is also important to keep screens tightly shut to keep mosquitos out and wear long sleeves and long pants.

There is no medication or vaccine available to protect against West Nile.

There have not been any reports this year on people infected in the district, according to the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District.

However, there have been 238 human cases in California this year to date, according to WestNile.ca.gov.

There has been an increase of West Nile in California since last year. So far this year, there have been 2,660 positive samples as opposed to 2,048 positive samples during this time last year.

Neighboring districts are experiencing an influx of West Nile infected mosquitos.

Ninety-one individuals have been infected, according to the Orange County Vector Control District. This is the largest number recorded in Orange County history.

“There is a number of strategies used to help reduce the threat of West Nile in Orange County,” said Jared Dever, director of communications at the Orange County Vector Control District.

“We educate the public on West Nile and how everyone plays a role in helping to reduce the threat by eliminating water runoff and standing water. We have an extensive research campaign including over 100 publications in print, broadcast, and radio in multiple languages. We reach the community through mailing and emailing lists,” Dever said.

The University has also been doing their part and informing faculty and students about the virus.

“We alerted faculty and staff during the students’ community engagement day about where West Nile had been found and how to prevent against it for those students who were going up into the foothills,” said Cindy Denne, director of student health services and services for students with disabilities.

“There will be information on our website on West Nile virus for all students to know how to protect themselves,” Denne said.

If dead birds are found, call the local vector control district. This could be an indication of the virus and can help with pinpointing the disease.

La Verne’s local vector control district is the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District and can be contacted at 626-814-9466.

Jennifer Jackson can be reached at jennifer.jackson2@laverne.edu.

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