The Los Angeles County West Vector & Vector-Borne Disease Control District has reported that a dead American Crow collected in the 90212 Beverly Hills ZIP has tested positive for the West Nile Virus (WNV).
The Center for Disease Control reports that WNV is most often spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite. The CDC notes that about 80 percent of people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
The discovery of a WNV-positive bird does not mean the surrounding population is vulnerable to an epidemic. According to the L.A. County West Vector & Vector-Borne Disease Control District:
Birds routinely travel many miles from their nighttime nesting locations to feed and scavenge during the day before they return to their root location in the evening again. Although positive birds collected in a specific area are significant with respect to trends on a wider basis, it does not definitively identify a specific city, ZIP code or location as the site where the actual mosquito bite and infection occurred because of these birds' extended daily travel patterns.
Mosquitoes that carry the virus primarily bite in the early morning and evening. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus are the most long-lasting and effective repellents.
Residents should also ensure that the doors and windows to their homes have tight-fitting screens to keep mosquitoes out. The insects lay their eggs in standing water and all sources of standing water should be eliminated from one's property, including flowerpots, rain gutters and pet water bowls. Swimming pools, hot tubs and ornamental ponds should be properly maintained. If you have a pond, use mosquito fish (you can obtain these fish free of cost from the L.A. County West Vector & Vector-Borne Disease Control District by calling 310-915-7370).
People affected with West Nile Virus fever can have a variety of symptoms, or none at all. Symptoms can include headaches, high fever, body aches, tiredness, rash and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms can last from several days to a few weeks.
Symptoms of West Nile Neuroinvasive disease, which occurs when the virus affects a person's nervous system, can include severe headaches, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis and coma. This form of the disease can lead to long-lasting and in some cases permanent brain damage.
Those infected with West Nile Virus fever or West Nile Neuroinvasive disease will usually develop symptoms within 2-15 days of infection.
The city of Beverly Hills is encouraging the public to report any birds that have been dead for less than 48 hours to the California Department of Health Services toll-free hotline at 1-877-WNV-BIRD. You will be contacted if the bird is to be picked up for WNV testing. If you have not been contacted within 24 hours of your report, you may safely dispose of the dead bird in your trash. Use gloves, a shovel or a plastic bag to place the bird in a trash bag for disposal. Please DO NOT freeze dead birds. WNV is transmitted by mosquitoes, so the best way to protect yourself from the disease is to avoid mosquito bites.
For more information about the West Nile Virus in California or to report dead birds online, visit the California Department of Health Services website here.