South Bay residents warned about West Nile Virus conditions


"I think it's very important. There's a lot of children that play in the streets and they get bit, and senior citizens like myself, I don't want to get bit," said Wilmington resident Margaret Gutierrez.

Carson resident Albert Shipman, 79, was the first person to die from West Nile Virus infection this year in L.A. County.

Officials say the virus is appearing earlier this year and in slightly higher numbers than is typical in the South Bay.

As a precaution, the city of Torrance has temporarily closed Madrona Marsh in an effort to keep residents safe.

In Wilmington, some surprising findings for residents as crews canvass their property. Even a small amount of standing water in a planter can be a factor.

"They're like little tadpoles, you see them swimming around in there? Those within five days, they're going to turn into biting adults," one Vector Control worker told a local resident.

Vector Control say the best way to protect yourself from West Nile Virus is prevent mosquito bites.

"The largest mosquito breeding source here in Los Angeles County are those backyard sources. Even the smallest amount of water contained in a small container, some backyard trash, can be potential breeding ground for mosquitoes," said Truc Dever, Greater L.A. Vector Control District director of community affairs.

The virus can be deadly to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Most people who contract West Nile have mild or no symptoms.

Five cases of West Nile Virus infections have been reported in L.A. County this year. Six people died from the virus in the county in 2012.

West Nile Virus is spread from humans through the bite of an infected mosquito; mosquitoes can become infected by biting a bird that carries the virus. Most mosquitoes do not carry the virus and most people bitten by a mosquito are not exposed to the virus. The virus is not spread through person-to-person contact, or directly from birds to humans.

In most cases, people who are infected with West Nile virus never become sick, or have only very mild symptoms that include fever, headache, nausea, body aches, and a mild skin rash. Symptoms of WNV could appear within three to 12 days after infection. Fewer than one in 150 people who are bitten by an infected mosquito become severely ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In these rare cases, the virus can cause encephalitis and death. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk for developing severe symptoms, which may require hospitalization. Recovery from any infection with the virus can take months to years and include symptoms of fatigue, malaise, and depression. There is no specific treatment for this disease.

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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