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Dead bird found with West Nile

Carcass turns up in Canyon Country with virus endemic to SoCal

Posted: August 7, 2009 7:15 p.m.
Updated: August 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.

The carcass of a bird infected with West Nile virus has been found in Canyon Country, officials said Friday, but the number of human cases is down significantly from last year.

“It’s important to remember that West Nile virus is endemic to Southern California so we can expect to see virus activity in birds and mosquitoes during the warm months year after year,” said Truc Dever, a spokeswoman for the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

Foreclosed homes with standing water in swimming pools, coupled with warm weather, have made many parts of Los Angeles County ideal for mosquito breeding, Dever said. The virus is transmitted through mosquito bites.

“We continue to urge residents to remain vigilant against mosquito bites and report any mosquito breeding around their homes,” she said.

A total 271 infected birds have been found this year in California, 42 of them in Los Angeles County.

But the number of humans infected with West Nile so far this year is on track to be significantly lower than last year’s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Only five cases of West Nile were in California so far this year — three of them in the Antelope Valley.

Last year, California saw 445 cases and 15 deaths, and in Los Angeles County there were 170 cases and six deaths.

Though the disease appears to have hit a lull this year, Dever said residents shouldn’t let their guards down.

About 80 percent of patients infected with the disease display no symptoms. The rest develop West Nile fever, which could include headaches, a skin rash, fatigue, body aches and swollen lymph glands.

These symptoms can last for days or weeks, coming and going for the rest of the victim’s life.

About 1 in 150 of those infected suffer more extreme symptoms, including meningitis, brain infections, neck stiffness, coma, convulsions and paralysis.

Of the three cases in the Antelope Valley, two patients showed no symptoms but the third suffered a brain infection and required hospitalization.

Almost 29,000 people in the United States have contracted West Nile virus since 1999. Of those reports, 11,760 have been seriously ill and more than 1,100 have died.



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