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L.A. on high alert for West Nile virus

July 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
L.A. County health officials have declared a "high alert" level for the West Nile virus after the discovery of five more dead birds infected with the disease.The birds were collected from Lakewood, Cerritos, Downey and Valley Village. The number of infected birds is now up to 21 in L.A. County and 139 in the state this year.

Just one person has tested positive for the virus in L.A. County this year, but they never developed significant symptoms.

The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District, which is responsible for controlling mosquitoes in the region, released a statement saying, "Mosquito season is in full swing. The data indicates that Los Angeles County is again the center of virus activity for Southern California. With another busy season, the district is on high alert and anticipates elevated virus activity throughout the rest of this summer."

The statement also included tips on how to avoid the virus, including:

  • Draining standing water in clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, discarded tires, buckets or other containers
  • Properly maintaining swimming pools, spas and ponds
  • Changing the water in pet dishes and replacing water in bird baths weekly

Health officials also say it's a good idea for people to use mosquito repellant when outdoors.

Residents are being asked to report dead birds by calling the Department of Public Health's toll-free hotline at (877) WNV-BIRD or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.

For more information on avoiding West Nile virus, you can call the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District at (562) 944-9656 or log onto http://www.glacvcd.org/.

City News Service contributed to this story.

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