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Mosquitoes, bird test positive for West Nile

Vector control official says it's been an 'epidemic year' for the virus

September 13, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Eleven mosquito samples in Burbank have tested positive for the West Nile virus, and an infected dead bird was found in Glendale, prompting local officials to renew calls for eliminating standing pools of water where the insects prefer to breed.

“It’s been such an epidemic year,” said Truc Dever, a spokeswoman for the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

The infected house sparrow was found dead in the 1000 block of Willard Avenue in Glendale. The 11 mosquito samples that tested positive for the virus in Burbank were from sites scattered across the city.

Burbank officials advised residents in a September newsletter to eliminate standing water on their properties, city spokesman Keith Sterling said.

“When there are one or two [cases], we are concerned,” he said.

The California Department of Public Health confirmed at least 33 people had contracted the West Nile virus this year. Of those, 10 live in Los Angeles County.

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While no deaths have been reported, 20 patients developed a neuro-invasive disease, according to the department’s Infectious Disease Branch.

About 80% of infected patients don’t show symptoms, according to the state Public Health Department. One in five people show mild symptoms, including nausea, rash, body aches, headaches, vomiting and swollen lymph glands about three to 14 days after being bitten.

Less than 1% of infected patients exhibit severe symptoms, which include high fever, muscle weakness, vision loss, coma, paralysis and neurological disease such as meningitis.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture confirmed five horses in Kern, Los Angeles, Tulare and Fresno counties had contracted the disease as of Sept. 8. All were recovering from the disease.

Another 135 sentinel chickens in 10 California counties have also tested positive, according to the state.

To report a dead bird or squirrel, visit www.westnile.ca.gov or call (877) WNV-BIRD.

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Authorities recommend the following precautions against mosquitoes:

Dump and drain all standing water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, so stay indoors during those periods.

Wear insect repellant to avoid being bitten.

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