Health officials report increase in West Nile Virus risk

A mosquito sits on a human's arm. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health/Facebook

In recent weeks, the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District, which oversees the Santa Clarita Valley, saw an increase in West Nile Virus across its jurisdiction.

The agency is one of the largest vector control districts in Los Angeles County and oversees 6.8 million residents in its 1,340-square-mile area.

In 2017, West Nile Virus activity was reported in more than 50 cities and communities within the vector control district’s jurisdiction.  Last week alone, 49 mosquito samples tested positive for the virus.

So far, a total of 10 dead birds, four sentinel chickens and 115 mosquito samples tested positive for West Nile Virus within the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District’s jurisdiction.  One of these mosquito samples was reported in Castaic and another was reported in Santa Clarita.

There is also an increase in human cases in Los Angeles County.  As of Aug. 11, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 22 human cases of West Nile Virus in the county.

The cases impacted individuals between the ages of 25 and 80 and resulted in 19 hospitalizations, according to the department’s Epidemiology Report No.2.

“The number of cases identified at this time is higher than the previous 5-year average,” the report read.

Last year, a total of 153 human infections and five fatalities were reported in Los Angeles County for all of 2016.

Infections from West Nile virus range from mild to fatal.  Infected individuals can experience cognitive and neurological symptoms, and have a mild fever and body aches that can progress to weakness, confusion and paralysis.

It could take months or years for a person to recover.

Mosquito Prevention

To reduce the risk of mosquitoes at home, it is important for residents to remove sources of standing water where mosquitoes lay eggs and develop.

“It’s easy to forget insect repellent or ignore standing water,” said Levy Sun, public information officer at the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District, in a statement. “But no one forgets when they or a family member becomes sick with West Nile virus.”

This year, the vector control district is encouraging residents to “tip and toss” standing water and its container where mosquito eggs can form.  This water should be dumped onto lawns and not into

“The biggest issue that we’re seeing is all the tiny amounts of water sitting in people’s yards in containers that can include recyclables and tires and household containers,” Sun told The Signal in April.  “Get rid of the water in those containers and then toss out those containers.”

Throwing away these containers can also help protect against invasive mosquitoes, called Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti, which can carry the Zika Virus and are found in Los Angeles County.

Residents are also encouraged to empty out rain barrels and troughs for livestock or horses, and ensure swimming pools and ponds are properly maintained.  Any water left standing for more than a week in containers provides the prefect breeding habitat for mosquitoes.

If residents believe they have a mosquito problem, they are welcome to contact the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District at 562-944-965 and report infestations at

Protection Tips from the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District:

  • Apply mosquito repellents to exposed skin before going outdoors.  Clothing can also be treated with permethrin products to prevent bites (read and follow all labels).
  • Use and reapply repellent as recommended on the label.  How long a repellent works depends on the active ingredient and the concentration you select.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends products with the active ingredients DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus products as being safe and effective.
  • Use infant seat/stroller screen covers on babies younger than 2 months, and only EPA registered repellents on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children younger than three years of age.

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