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Tests confirm West Nile in tri-city area

County officials post warnings after collecting positive samples of the virus.

September 11, 2012|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Eight samples in the tri-city region, including two dead crows, have tested positive for West Nile virus, prompting warnings from vector control officials.

The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District collected three positive mosquito samples in Burbank, two in San Marino and one in Glendale. Two dead crows — one found on Garden Street, the other on Hillcrest Avenue, in Glendale — also tested positive for West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness.

The virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have bitten infected birds. Officials say about 20% of those bitten by infected mosquitos experience minor symptoms, such as fever, aches and other flu-like ailments. Even fewer become severely ill, with death a very rare occurrence, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Batches of 12, 15 and 43 mosquitoes were collected on Myers Street in Burbank, vector control spokeswoman Truc Dever said.

“We know there is a lot of mosquito activity in Burbank and a lot of West Nile virus activity in the area of Burbank,” she said.

Another sample of infectious mosquitoes was found on Niodrara Drive in Glendale for the first time this year.

All of the samples were retrieved on Friday.

While the dead birds were discovered on neighborhood streets in Glendale, officials said that doesn't necessarily indicate they were infected within the city.

Hot temperatures have increased mosquito activity, as well as the virus' reproduction rate, according to Dever.

Vector control officials have confirmed 138 positive mosquito samples, 31 dead birds that carried the virus and three chickens with the virus in Los Angeles County.

Eighteen people have been infected with the virus so far this year, according to county public health officials. Of those cases, seven were reported in the San Fernando Valley region and four in San Gabriel Valley.

Once vector control representatives identify samples that have tested positive for the virus, they post mosquito warning signs in public areas about a half-mile from the collection site, Dever said.

She urged residents to get rid of any stagnant water on their property — a key breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“All it takes is a little bottle cap of water,” she said.

Stagnant pools of water, then, can mean serious health and safety issues, officials say.

John Brownell, a senior supervisor for Glendale's Neighborhood Services Division, said when officials receive reports of unclean water, they usually send out a 24-hour notice to property owners to take care of the issue.

A code enforcement officer follows up with the owner a couple of days later to ensure the pool is functioning properly and the water is clear.

Nearly all residents comply with the notice, Brownell said.

There have been three reports of stagnant pools of water so far this month in Glendale, he said.

Burbank's code enforcement officers work with police helicopter pilots to check for filthy pools during the spring and fall, said city spokesman Drew Sugars.

From the sky, they get a better visual of dirty pools, using a navigation system to pinpoint an address for suspect pools and follow-up action, he said.

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

Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA

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