County health officials have issued a warning to Santa Monica residents after two dead birds in the city tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The LA County Vector-Borne Disease Control District previously reported that a dead crow in Venice tested positive for the virus -- shortly after reporting that a dead crow in Culver City had also tested positive for West Nile.

While no reports of the virus have yet been confirmed in Mar Vista, it is likely that we share the same bird population with these neighboring communities and Mar Vista residents should be alert.

The West Nile Virus is carried by birds, and then passed on to humans by mosquitoes that become infected.

Health officials say that conditions have been perfect for the potentially deadly disease because it has been very hot and humid.  Dirty swimming pools and standing water can create the ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The public is encouraged to report dead birds to help with West Nile virus surveillance and control efforts. Dead birds should be reported to the toll-free hotline at 877-WNV BIRD (877-968-2473).

Residents can take the following precautions to avoid West Nile infection:

  • Apply insect repellent, especially those containing DEET, picaradin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus -- especially in the early morning and evening.
  • Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes, and repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitos may lay their eggs -- including flowerpots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. Ensure that swimming pools, spas, and ponds are properly maintained. If you have an ornamental pond, use mosquito fish. You can make an arrangement to pick up free mosquito fish at the District by calling 310-915-7370.

So far this year in California there have been 34 cases of people diagnosed with West Nile virus in 11 counties.

CNN reports that this year's West Nile outbreak is the largest ever in the country.  Some fast facts about the virus.

  • Symptoms of West Nile infection include fatigue, fever, headache, body aches, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.
  • Those who become ill may develop West Nile encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.
  • There is no vaccine or specific treatment for West Nile virus.
  • The virus is spread by mosquitoes, which contract West Nile from infected birds.
  • According to the CDC, only 1% of people bitten by West Nile-infected mosquitoes become seriously ill.


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