Mosquito samples in Orange County test positive for West Nile virus

Photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of obtaining a blood meal from a human host. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP, File)

Officials in Orange County are warning residents after mosquito samples tested positive for West Nile virus for the first time this year.

The infected mosquito samples were collected in Huntington Beach, an area historically at high risk for West Nile virus activity, according to a news release from the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District.

“Conditions across the region are favorable for continued virus activity during the warm summer months,” said Amber Semrow, OCMVCD director of scientific and technical services.

The virus, which can be fatal, is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito contracts the virus when it feeds on infected birds.

Some symptoms that infected people may experience include fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting, and headache. Older adults and people with existing health problems are most likely to develop severe symptoms.

People most susceptible to complications from infections include people over 50 years of age, people with diabetes, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, people with weakened immune systems, people who have had an organ transplant, and people who have recently undergone chemotherapy.

In some cases, people with chronic medical conditions can develop serious infections that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing meningitis, encephalitis, and paralysis.

There is currently no specific treatment for West Nile virus disease and no vaccine to prevent infection.

In Huntington Beach, the infected mosquitoes were found in an area bordering Newland Street, Adams Avenue, Bushard Street and Atlanta Avenue, the release said.

Officials said staff will continue to monitor the area and conduct inspections and implement control measures to prevent additional mosquito breeding sites. Warning signs will also be placed in affected areas.

“It is essential that community members do their part by dumping and pumping out standing water,” said Brian Brannon, OCMVCD Public Information Officer. “Residents can also protect themselves and their families by using EPA-registered repellents, wearing long-sleeved clothing, and spreading the word to friends and neighbors.”

To prevent mosquito bites, you can take action and follow these tips:

  • Empty and dispose of containers filled with water at least once a week
  • Clean and scrub bird baths and pet water bowls weekly
  • Pour water from the saucers of potted plants
  • Wear an insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • Close all doors and windows without screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home or space; repair broken or damaged screens

“At this time, Orange County has not reported any human cases of West Nile virus,” the press release said.

More information about how to prevent West Nile virus infection can be found here.

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