West Nile Virus Infects 2 in Los Angeles County, Is Found in San Gabriel Valley Mosquitoes, But Pasadena is Spared So Far

Published : Tuesday, August 6, 2019 | 5:19 AM

San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District officials have confirmed the first indication of West Nile Virus activity in San Gabriel Valley, detected in a sample of mosquitoes from the city of Baldwin Park. But for now, there is no indication that the virus is present in any part of Pasadena, they said.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles County, 2 people have been infected with West Nile Virus, according to County health department officials. Statewide, one person has died from the virus.

The Vector Control District routinely monitors populations of adult mosquitoes for the presence of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. The SGVMVCD also tests wild birds, such as crows, which can provide insight into the spread of West Nile Virus.

“So far, I’m happy to report that we have not confirmed any West Nile virus being carried by mosquitoes or birds in Pasadena,” said Levi Sun, public information officer at the SGVMVCD, said. “But one thing to note though with West Nile is that it is considered endemic, which means that it’s in our environment, and we will confirm it throughout southern California every single year.”

Sun added there aren’t any reports of any local outbreaks in Pasadena nor in areas immediately nearby.

But this is not to say anyone should let their guard down. Mosquito control officials encourage residents to take steps now to prevent an outbreak from spreading in their communities.

SGVMVCD Scientific Program Manager Melissa Doyle said as the season heats up, “everyone should take the necessary steps to prevent mosquito bites and eliminate stagnant water around their home.”

“We want to make sure that even though we detected it and confirmed it in the city of Baldwin Park, it is lurking in the background of all of our cities,” Sun continued. “It’s just a matter of time before we detect it throughout San Gabriel valley. So people should stay vigilant and treat this as an alert, a warning that they should take precautions now before they get sick.”

Sun also stressed Pasadena is not always a safe city as far was mosquito-borne diseases are concerned.

“When we first started out, we realized how to Pasadena is one of the larger cities in San Gabriel Valley. So we gridded out Pasadena and basically took it systematically and looked at all the major sources that we could find – from channels to parks that may have drains – and we have found that Pasadena is not exempt from having mosquito problems,” he said. “We are really hoping that more Pasadenans are going to heed our warning of making sure they don’t over-water their gardens and yards, and if they have a landscaper, or maintain their own property, to make sure to reduce the clutter around the property.”

Since the SGVMVCD took over the vector control functions from the Pasadena Health Department a few years ago, the District has experienced how Pasadena residents have exhibited their cooperation in keeping disease-carrying mosquitoes out.

“People in Pasadena care a lot about their city, and it shows. In many cases when we go out and talk to residents, they may not have been aware of the mosquito problems, but once they hear about where they can lay their eggs, what they can do about it, a lot of Pasadena residents actually take action,” Sun said. “And we have gone back to certain neighborhoods where the mosquito problem has pretty much dwindled because neighbors would get together and tackle the mosquito problems. Yeah, it’s really great.”

The SGVMVCD continues to work with Pasadena health officials in creating awareness among residents of the other species of mosquitoes that are actually troublesome – the Aedes mosquito.

“We do want people to continue to be aware of the Aedes mosquitoes. These are the little black and white ones that bite aggressively and can transmit Zika. Especially when it’s summertime, people are traveling to tropical areas then they bring back in their bodies Zika or dengue fever and they come back to Pasadena where these Aedes mosquitoes can take that virus in the traveler’s body and just pass it on to someone else in Pasadena,” Sun said.

Among the recommendations that the SGVMVCD disseminates to residents throughout their jurisdiction are that people should get rid of stagnant water around the home, make sure all window and door screens are in good repair, and wear insect repellent containing CDC-recommended Picaridin, DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. These are effective against mosquitoes when used as labeled.

For more information, contact the SGVMVCD at (626) 814-9466, or visit www.SGVMosquito.org.
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