Health officials continue to urge residents to be diligent in preventing environments that can breed mosquitos.
Recently, the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVD) collected a sample of mosquitos that tested positive for West Nile virus, the first such result, in the State, this year.
According to the GLACVD, the sample was collected in Sylmar on March 18 in a unkempt pool.
“Last year, GLACVD confirmed the first WNV positive mosquito sample in May, which makes this year’s confirmation about two months early,” according to a district statement.
Kelly Middleton, the district’s community affairs director, said the positive test result shows that mosquito season extends beyond summer.
Drought years can contribute to the incidents of West Nile according to Vector control officials. Fewer sources of moving water and more stagnant ponds shared by both mosquitoes and birds can increase the virus.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. Flu-like symptoms can occur, and while most people have a low risk of serious illness, about 1 percent of those infected can develop serious neurologic illness.
“This year’s warm winter has likely contributed to early WNV activity and may be indicative of increased risk in the (San Fernando) Valley this summer,” said a Vector control official. “Our residents need to understand this and take actions now to reduce their risks.”
There is no cure for West Nile virus. One in five of those infected will exhibit symptoms that usually appear five to 15 days after exposure and can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea or a skin rash.
One in 150 people infected with the virus will require hospitalization, according to the district, which reports that severe symptoms include high fever, muscle weakness, neck stiffness, coma, paralysis and possibly death. There were 29 West Nile virus-related deaths in California last year.
Those who are 50 or older with pre-existing medical conditions, including diabetes or high blood pressure, are more at risk.
Because of the recent findings, it is critical for community members to eliminate mosquito breeding areas where water is left standing for more than one week. So:
• If you have a pool, please maintain it regularly.
• Clear out fountains, flower pots, and pet dishes.
• Check clogged drain gutters, rain gutters or discarded tires, and buckets to get rid of standing water.
For additional information, contact the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District, Sylmar Branch, at (818) 364-9589.