Surge in West Nile Virus Cases Has Orange County on High Alert

Public officials in Orange County are urging residents to take precautions following a series of West Nile Virus cases. A total of 11 human infections were reported as of Thursday, including six in Santa Anta and one each in Costa Mesa, Orange, and Laguna Niguel. In addition, a whopping 80 percent of mosquitoes tested in the county have come back positive for West Nile, compared to just 10 percent last year. Ninety percent of dead birds collected have also tested positive.

As always, officials are pleading with residents to eliminate any standing water. 

“Mosquitoes can breed in (stagnant water) the size of a bottle cap,” said Santa Ana spokesman Tanya Lyon. “But most of the positive batches were in above-ground pools.”

Residents are also encouraged to use insect repellant containing DEET and avoid the outdoors during nighttime, especially without proper clothing. 

Meanwhile, the Orange County Vector Control District (OCVD) is turning to specially-bred fish that eat mosquitoes to help combat the problem.  

“We go to the resident’s home and with permission and put the fish inside the pool,” said OCVCD Director of Scientific Technical Services Robert Cummings. “The fish will live in the water in the pool and then eat the mosquitoes.

On Thursday, Los Angeles County also recorded its first two human cases of West Nile for 2014. Two adults have died from the virus so far this year—one in Sacramento County and the other in Shasta County. West Nile Virus first appeared in the United States in 1999. Most who contract it will show no signs or symptoms; those who do experience flu-like symptoms including fever, aches, rash, and swollen lymph glands which can vary in duration and severity

Read more about Orange County’s mounting West Nile Virus cases here.


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