Officials warn of West Nile virus threat in San Fernando Valley

- Almost half of the 22 people from Los Angeles County who tested positive for West Nile virus so far this year are from the San Fernando Valley, a hot spot where the disease appears to be spreading this season, according to public health and vector control officials.

Officials with the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District this week reported a spike in West Nile virus activity, saying they found 49 infected mosquito samples in the region they serve in the last week alone, the Los Angeles Daily news reported. Statewide, Los Angeles County reported the highest number of people infected so far.

"San Fernando Valley is of heightened concern for us this year,'' Susanne Kluh, the vector control district’s scientific-technical services director, said in a statement cited by the newspaper.

Of the 22 people who were sickened countywide, 19 were hospitalized, according to a recent advisory from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The number of cases identified at this time is higher than the previous 5-year average, Los Angeles County health officials said, according to the Daily News.

Residents who recently tested positive were from Arcadia, Bellflower, Canoga Park, Palmdale and Winnetka.

Statewide, the number of infected people, mosquitoes and birds are fewer this year than last. But health officials said the recent heavy rainy season can increase mosquito populations, which can lead to other diseases such as Zika, the Daily News reported.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for West Nile Virus. Residents are urged to take precautions during warm temperatures by using DEET as an insect repellent, avoiding exposure at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes bite, and eliminating all sources of standing water.

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