A crow found in ValenciaMeadowsPark has been preliminarily field tested for West Nile virus. What is important to note, for local residents, is that this bird could have come from 15-20 miles away. Los Angeles County Vector Control states that currently no mosquito traps in Santa Clarita test positive for West Nile.
Los Angeles County Public Health advises that, as a precaution, all residents, when outdoors for a prolonged period, should use insect repellent with DEET on a regular basis. The City will be reminding parents with children enrolled at day camp at ValenciaMeadowsPark to remember to use insect repellent.
If residents find a bird that has recently died, particularly a crow or other corvid such as a raven, jay, or magpie, they should call the California Department of Health services hotline at 877-WNV-BIRD. Not all birds will qualify for testing; however they will record all reports of dead birds.
Dead American crows are the most commonly reported bird infected with West Nile virus. "The City is working with the agencies that handle West Nile. Our understanding is that at this time, West Nile is not occurring in our parks and that the bird that was field-tested is not an indicator of a more serious problem at this time," commented Rick Gould, Director, Parks, Recreation and Community Services. West Nile virus is transmitted to people and animals by infected mosquitoes. Only certain specifies of mosquitoes carry the virus and very few mosquitoes are actually infected. A mosquito first becomes infected by feeding on a wild bird that has virus in it is blood.
The mosquito transmits West Niles virus in its saliva when it bites another person or animal. Humans and horses are "accidental hosts" for West Nile virus; mosquitoes that bite them do not become infected. The virus is most prevalent from May to October when mosquitoes are most abundant. West Nile virus does not appear to cause extensive illness in dogs or cats. In rare instances, West Nile virus can be transmitted through blood transfusion, organ transplants and from mothers to fetuses and breastfeeding infants. Pregnant and nursing mothers are encouraged to avoid mosquitoes. One in five persons who are infected with West Nile virus will exhibit illness. Of those who become ill, symptoms may include fever, headache and body aches, nausea, a skin rash on the trunk of the body, and/or swollen lymph nodes. Severe symptoms may include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, paralysis, and possibly death. At greatest risk are the elderly and those who have weakened immune systems. The time between the mosquito bite and the onset of illness ranges from 5-15 days in humans. It is estimated that 1 in 150 people who are infected with the virus will require hospitalization.
For more information or to report a dead bird, call 877-WNV-BIRD or log onto www.westnile.ca.gov.