What does it mean?
The West Nile virus (WNV) has been particularly active throughout the United States and now, because of persistent hot weather and high humidity, Los Angeles County has also shown a significant rise recently in positive indicators (dead birds, sentinel flocks, mosquitoes, or dead squirrels) in comparison to 2011.
Although human cases in Los Angeles County are down from 63 in 2011 to only 25 in 2012, extra
care should be taken by all residents to reduce their exposure and the likelihood of contracting
WNV by following the recommendations listed below. Currently, 110 zip codes out of 361 located
in the County of Los Angeles have recorded positive indicators for WNV. West Nile virus is
endemic in Los Angeles County and California.
Nationally, West Nile virus has been found in all 50 states since its introduction into the United
States in 1999 and currently there are 2,636 human cases and 118 deaths compared to only 712
case and 43 deaths for the entire 2011 year.
WNV is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when
they first feed on birds that carry the virus, and then bite a human or animal.
Over 80% of all of the positive indicators (dead birds, sentinels chicken flocks,mosquitoes, and dead squirrels) are dead birds. Birds routinely travel many miles from their nighttime nesting locations to feed and scavenger during the day before they return to their original location in the evening. Although positive birds collected in a specific area are significant with respect to trends on a wider basis, it does not definitively identify a specific city, zip code, or
location as the site where the actual mosquito bite and infection occurred because of the birds
extended daily travel patterns. A bird may travel and die as much as 1 to 10 miles away from the
location where it was infected. It is believed that a large number of birds are going further west this year to the coastal communities to seek relief from the unusual and persistent hot weather.
A positive result from sentinel chicken flocks and trapped adult mosquitoes are more specific with respect to the actual site of the infection, whereas positive dead birds are less specific with respect to the actual site of the infection.
Reporting Dead Birds: 1-877-WNV BIRD (1-877-968-2473):
The public is encouraged to report dead birds to help with West Nile virus surveillance and control efforts. Dead birds should be reported to the toll-free hotline number at 1-877-WNV BIRD (1-877-968-2473). Dead birds must be less than 24 hours old to be able to test them for West Nile virus. If the bird is rigid or decomposed, it cannot be used for testing.
Birds that are not in a condition to be tested can be disposed of in your normal weekly trash by
taking the following steps:
1) Take a plastic garbage bag and inserting your hand in the open end;
2) Grab the dead bird and pull it into the garbage bag using an “outside-to-inside” pulling motion;
3)Tie off the bag with the bird inside and place it in your regular trash for disposal.
The District does not pick up and disposed of dead birds that are not in a condition to be tested.
Animal Control should be called for disposal of dead birds that are too old to be tested, if the
personal disposal method listed above is not used.
Residents can protect themselves from WNV by doing the following:
• DEET – Apply insect repellent according to the label. Repellents containing DEET,
picaradin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus are the longest lasting and most effective.
Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you.
• DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes that carry WNV primarily bite in the early morning and
evening so it is important to wear repellent at this time.
MOSQUITO PROOF YOUR HOME – Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-
fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
• DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing
water on your property, including flowerpots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.
Ensure that swimming pools, spas, and ponds are properly maintained. If you have an
ornamental pond, use mosquito fish. You can make an arrangement to pick up free
mosquito fish at the District by calling 310-915-7370.
Symptoms of West Nile virus:
People infected with WNV can experience a variety of symptoms that may include: no symptoms,West Nile Fever, or West Nile Neuroinvasive disease. Symptoms usually occur 2-15 days after infection. If you suspect you have contracted WNV, consult your physician for testing and care.
Symptoms of “West Nile Fever” can include:
• Headaches (often severe)
• High fever
• Tiredness and body aches
• A skin rash and swollen lymph glands
These symptoms may last from several days to several weeks.
Symptoms of “West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease” can include:
• Severe Headache
• High Fever
• Stiff neck
• Tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness
• Coma: This form of the disease can lead to long lasting and/or permanent damage to the
For mosquito problems or to pick up mosquito fish (1-310-915-7370): Call 1-310-915-7370
Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
For additional information on WNV and the Los Angeles County West Vector & Vector-
Borne Disease Control District (www.lawestvector.org): Please visit the District’s website at
www.lawestvector.org. WNV results and new positives are updated on a weekly basis.
Questions: If you have any questions, please contact Robert Saviskas, Executive Director, at
(310) 915-7370 ext. 223 or at [email protected]