West Nile virus swarms L.A. County

Cody Luk
Online Editor

The San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District recently identified West Nile virus in mosquitoes and birds in several local cities.

Multiple samples of the virus have been found in Claremont, Covina, Glendora, Industry, Pomona, San Dimas and West Covina, and it has a high potential to infect humans.

Los Angeles County health officials announced Tuesday, that a San Gabriel Valley man has become the first person in the county to die from West Nile virus infection this year.

People with weak immune systems and the elderly have higher chances of getting sick from the disease, which is related to dengue and yellow fever.

The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes that bite infected birds, then carry it to humans.

There is currently no cure or human vaccine for West Nile virus.

“The mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus are most active during dusk and dawn, in the evenings and in the early mornings,” Jason Farned, Vector Control District public information officer, said.

Mosquitoes often die during winter, but not in California due to the warm climate.

“There are mosquitoes year-round, especially in the winters with high temperature,” Farned said. “West Nile virus is always here in California.”

The Vector Control District is currently trapping mosquitoes in public parks and areas to maintain the population.

The officers are also testing them for viruses.

“It’s really hard to manage the (size) of the adult population, so we try to remove them before they’re adults,” Farned said.

Although some people infected with the virus may show symptoms such as headache, fever, nausea or skin rashes, there are others that never show any symptoms.

The best way to avoid getting the virus is to prevent mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent.

Students should be concerned about mosquitoes when they are outdoors, even on campus.

“I think I’ve seen a big one on campus one time,” said Diana Duong, senior sociology major. “I try to leave the door closed at all times.”

Duong said she gets mosquito bites and she tries to avoid them as often as possible by wearing long sleeves or leggings when she is doing outdoor activities, such as hiking.

“They’re everywhere in the cities,” Farned said.

Eighteen cases have been reported in Los Angeles County so far this year, according to the Vector Control District.

Last year, the county saw 218 cases and seven deaths.

Residents can report dead birds by calling 877-968-2473 or filling out a service request on westnile.ca.gov.

Mosquito control tips and other information can be found at sgvmosquito.org.

Cody Luk can be reached at cody.luk@laverne.edu.

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