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West Nile virus targeted in Sepulveda Basin, as public health concerns heighten

Daily News - 9/27/2017

Sept. 27--Vector control agents conducted a pre-dawn raid on adult mosquitoes in the Sepulveda Basin on Wednesday to knock down the populations in an effort to reduce the spread of West Nile virus.

The truck-mounted, ultra-low volume fogging in the Sepulveda Basin recreation area should not affect any visitors to the area who use the trails, said Kelly Middleton, a spokeswoman for the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

She said the product used to eradicate the insects is a synthetic, man-made chemical based compound called pyrethrins found in chrysanthemums.

"One of the reasons we use these products is it's very effective against these (mosquitoes)," she said. "There are no concerns for exposure for people. The pesticide is only effective a short period of time."

Mosquitoes will likely remain active through October, Middleton said. Though mosquito population isn't as high as other years, the infection rate among the insects is higher than average, she added.

To continue their efforts to help stop the spread of West Nile virus, vector control agents will go door-to-door Thursday in Encino, Northridge, and Reseda, where West Nile virus concerns are elevated.

So far this year, a dozen mosquito samples tested positive for West Nile virus in the area, vector control officials have said. Of the 98 people who have tested positive for the virus as of Friday, a large percentage were from the San Fernando Valley, including 10 from Glendale and three from Burbank, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. There have been six deaths.

Last year, there were 153 total cases in Los Angeles County and five deaths.

Wednesday's early morning fogging was not unusual but also hasn't been done in a while, Middletone said.

"It's been a few years since we've had to conduct adult mosquito control in the area, but we typically do so every few years or so when conditions warrant," she said.

Known as a disease of wild birds, West Nile virus is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Infection occurs between mosquitoes and birds. The Sepulveda Basin has a high wild bird population, Middleton added.

In rare cases, a person can be become ill through a blood transfusion.

Most people infected with West Nile virus do not become seriously ill, but some experience flu-like symptoms. About 1 percent of them can develop serious neurological illness. People who are 50 and older or who have pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure have the greatest risk of developing complications such as meningitis and encephalitis, health officials say.

Though past years have seen higher rates of infection and deaths both state and countywide, this year's rising West Nile virus activity remains a concern because the season isn't over yet. Mosquitoes thrive in high temperatures, Middleton said.

On Monday, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn and officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health launched a campaign with 100 teams of people venturing out to distribute educational packets to more than 20,000 schools, houses of worship and community centers across the region.

Residents are urged to use insect repellent, and to tip and toss standing water from outside containers of all sizes, public health officials and vector control agents said.

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(c)2017 the Daily News (Los Angeles)

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