Mosquitoes Carrying West Nile Virus Found in Orange and L.A. Counties For First Time in 2021

Making an appearance later in the year than usual, California's Orange and Los Angeles counties first batch of West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes were found.

Biting mosquito

Image via Getty/mrs

Biting mosquito

A batch of mosquitos carrying the West Nile virus were found in Orange County, California, according to a statement from officials made on Friday. This marks the first instance of insects infected with West Nile being found in the area in 2021, per NBC Los Angeles.

Samples were taken last week, leading to positive test results. 

Heather Hyland, the public information officer of the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District, says that no humans in the county have gotten infected with the virus this year, marking a drop from 2020. Neighboring Los Angeles County, which has averaged 118 cases per year over the last five years, had a resident hospitalized with the illness in Late July. That person is currently recovering. 

Mosquitoes get West Nile from birds then spread it to humans and, less pertinently to you, also horses. Culex mosquitoes (which serve as a vector for multiple notable diseases) prefer bird blood to humans, but will settle for the latter if it’s convenient. Pointing out the relevance of that, Hyland said that the amount of Culex mosquitoes in an area is dependent on the bird population. 

“We encourage people to check their yards and if they can’t find any water or any mosquito activity, but they’re still getting bit, they can call us for a service request, and we’ll go out and inspect the area,” Hyland said, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Residents (you, maybe? Probably not) are recommended to use bug repellant with DEET, but those who don’t want to spray themselves with that chemical can opt for lemon eucalyptus oil. Rotating fans can also push mosquitoes away. Note that info if you’re in an area that deals with said bugs.

Hyland says the local Mosquito and Vector Control District is trying to push away the insects with drones and repellant-spraying trucks. 

The Los Angeles Times points out that this virus often makes an appearance in California around summer/early fall (see: calendar). Most humans who get it don’t have symptoms, but roughly one in five will get a fever plus a headache, joint pains, body aches, diarrhea, vomiting or a rash. Roughly 1 in 150 people infected will develop a serious illness. 

So far this year one person in California has died from West Nile. Last year, Orange and L.A. County had a combined total of eight deaths attributed to it.

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