Public health agencies prepare for West Nile Virus infection season


"It actually has a fan with a net that sucks the mosquitoes in," said Lamar Rush, Long Beach Vector Control coordinator.

Rush is setting traps for mosquitoes, testing them for the West Nile Virus.

"The virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito," said Nelson Kerr, manager of the Long Beach Bureau of Environmental Health.

The mosquito typically gets the virus from feeding on dead birds and then can transmit the virus to humans. Five cases of West Nile infection have been reported in Los Angeles County in the past few days, and cities like Long Beach are urging the public to take precautions.

"The coming months are really the warmer months and these are the months, August and September, where we really start seeing the virus come out in human cases," said Kerr.

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Officials ask the public to remember the "five Ds": "Deet or some other mosquito repellent; dressing appropriately at dawn and dusk with long sleeves, long pants. They should be draining any stagnant water; making sure their doors and windows are screened properly; and reporting any dead birds they may see," said Kerr.

In most cases people with West Nile Virus will show no symptoms. But in very rare cases the virus can be deadly, which is why cities like Long Beach are taking every precaution to educate and protect the public.

Decrease risk of infection:

- Avoid mosquito-infested areas at dawn and dusk.

- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.

- Repellants containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of eucalyptus, when used as labeled, are effective defenses against mosquitoes.

- Check your window screens for holes.

- Do not allow water to collect and stagnate in old tires, flowerpots, swimming pools, birdbaths, pet bowls, or other containers. These are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools; drain water from pool covers.

- Stock garden ponds with goldfish or other mosquito-eating fish. These eat mosquito eggs and larvae.

- Empty and wash birdbaths and wading pools weekly.

More information:

- Information on West Nile Virus by phone: (800) 975-4448.

- Information on West Nile Virus on the web: California West Nile Virus Website

Where to call with questions about mosquitoes:

Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District: (562) 944-9656

Los Angeles County West Vector Control District: (310) 915-7370

San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District: (626) 814-9466

Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District: (661) 942-2917

Compton Creek Mosquito Abatement District: (310) 933-5321

Pasadena City Health Department: (626) 744-6004

City of Long Beach Vector Control Program: (562) 570-4132

The Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health provided resources for this report.

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