Clean Pools, Sweep Gutters to Prevent West Nile: Officials

Eleven people in Orange County have been infected with the virus and officials have reported more than 200 infected mosquitoes and birds

Hoping to prevent further West Nile virus infections, health officials in Orange County are urging residents to clean their pools and sweep their gutters to prevent standing water that attracts potential virus-carrying mosquitoes.

At a press conference on Thursday, Orange County health officials also urged residents to keep window and door screens in good condition, wear protective clothing outside and report dead birds.

"Even one mosquito bite may be all it takes to become infected with West Nile virus," said Robert Cummings, the director of scientific technical services for the Orange County Vector Control District.

Vector control officials said they have seen about a dozen dirty pools in southwest Santa Ana, an area where nearly every mosquito found by authorities has tested positive for West Nile.

People interested in converting unused pools into fish ponds can contact the Orange County Vector Control District. Fish prevent breeding by preying on the mosquitoes, officials said.

The push comes a day after the first two West Nile-related deaths were recorded this year in California.

It also comes as officials report an increase in infections that have been deadly.

The first human case of West Nile virus infection in Orange County was reported July 10.

Since then, 10 more people in the county have been infected, bringing the total to 11, about a third of human cases statewide. Last year, 12 people in Orange County were infected, a significant drop from 2012 when 48 human cases were reported.

West Nile virus has also been confirmed in birds and mosquitoes in Hacienda Heights, Sherman Oaks and Long Beach this year. Long Beach officials on Thursday confirmed the city's first human case.

State officials on Wednesday reported that two people, from Sacramento and Shasta Counties, have died from West Nile this year.

Orange County officials said they have reported more than 200 cases of infected mosquitoes and birds.

About 80 percent of mosquito samples and nearly 90 percent of dead bird samples in the county have tested positive for West Nile virus, Cumming said.

Officials said they're doing their part by cleaning gutters and dirty storm drains, where even a small amount of water can allow hundres of mosquito larvae to grow. 

Symptoms for West Nile include fever, headaches and body rashes. In severe cases the virus can lead to paralysis and death. Anyone with a fever lasting for several days should see a doctor, officials said.

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