(Oct. 17, 2003) -- LB's Dept. of Health & Human Services (DHHS) has confirmed that a dead American crow found in LB was infected with the dangerous and potentially deadly West Nile Virus (WNV).
It is the first dead bird with WNV in Long Beach.
No human cases of WNV have been found in LB...yet.
As of October 16, 2003, there have been 6,977 human cases and 149 deaths nationally this year. WNV killed nearly 300 people nationally in 2002.
In a written release, LB's DHHS urges residents "to clean up any pools of standing, stagnant water as this provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as WNV."
It adds that "the elderly, individuals who are immune compromised and the very young are at increased of WNV infection and should take extra precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes...Residents should avoid mosquito-infested areas at dawn or dusk, wear long sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, ensure all operable windows are screened, and use insect repellent products with between 10%-50% DEET for adults and between 10%-30% DEET for children..."
LB's Health Dept. recommendations for keeping mosquitoes under control on residents' property are as follows:
- Dispose of anything that can hold standing water such as tin cans, discarded tires and plastic containers;
- Drain or fill low spots in the ground and drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers to prevent moisture from collecting;
- Change water in bird baths, decorative fountains and pet feeding bowls often;
- Clean clogged roof gutters regularly;
- Sweep standing water in gutters;
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools regularly.
L.A. County's Health Dept. web site says, "In most cases people who are infected never become sick or have only very mild symptoms for a few days. The virus can in rare cases cause encephalitis and death. The elderly are most at risk for severe cases of the disease. There is no specific treatment for the West Nile Virus. In a serious case, an individual may be hospitalized to ensure good supportive care. Most people who are infected with WNV have no symptoms. Of those that become ill, symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, body aches and a mild skin rash. In a few cases, the disease will progress to encephalitis."
We post below pertinent portions of LB Dept. of Health and Human Services [DHHS] release text:
"DHHS has enhanced its Vector Control Program by hiring extra staff during warm months. The Program routinely provides mosquito surveillance and control in public areas of the City and targets breeding sites for spraying mosquitoes and testing for WNV and other arboviruses...
"Since WNV affects certain types of birds (crows, jays, magpies, sparrows, finches and ravens), the DHHS participates in a dead bird surveillance program and collects the dead birds to determine if they were infected with any viruses. The public can become part of the monitoring effort for WNV by reporting any birds listed above that may have been dead for less than 48 hours and show no sign of decomposition or maggot infestation to a special California Department of Health Services toll-free line: 877-WNV-BIRD. The tissue of the dead birds is tested for the presence of WNV. The virus was most often identified in dead birds, especially crows, in other regions of the country. While there is no evidence that people can get the virus from handling live or dead infected birds, individuals should not attempt to catch or handle them.
"If you have any questions regarding mosquito control measures in the city of Long Beach, please feel free to contact the DHHS [Dept. of Health & Human Services] Environmental Health Program at (562) 570-4132 or go to the DHHS web site at www.longbeach.gov/health. Further information may be obtained at the State of California Department of Health Services web page at www.westnile.ca.gov, or at the Federal Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile."
L.A. County also has a dead bird hotline for residents to call when they find a recently dead bird: 1-877-747-2243. (Don't touch the bird yourself!) The County Dept. of Health also has information on its web site at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile.