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UPDATE: West Nile warning issued for Central Park

2nd victim of the season dies from mosquito-borne ailment

Posted: September 26, 2012 11:50 a.m.
Updated: September 26, 2012 7:16 p.m.

David and Valerie Blanco, 6, of Saugus play basketball next to one of nine West Nile Virus warning posters attached to orange cones at Central Park in Saugus on Wednesday listing precautions park visitors should take regarding bites from infected mosquitoes after the second person in Los Angeles County died.

As news of a second county death caused by West Nile virus emerged today, local sports team organizers have been alerted to the discovery of the virus in Santa Clarita’s Central Park, city and county officials said.

Dr. David Dassey, deputy chief of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ Acute Communicable Disease Control, told The Signal today he is preparing a news release on the announcement that health officials have confirmed this season’s second death in the county attributed to West Nile virus.

“There has been a second West Nile death,” Dassey said. “We do not have a location for the (latest) death.”

This season’s first death attributed to West Nile virus was reported last week.

The first victim was an elderly woman who lived in the southeast part of Los Angeles County near Orange County, Dassey said.

“The reality is: West Nile virus is all over the county,” he said. “Mosquitoes are everywhere, birds are everywhere.

“Birds incubate the virus and mosquitoes transfer it.”

In the Santa Clarita Valley, two birds — a barn owl and a finch — tested positive for West Nile in recent samplings, said Truc Dever, spokeswoman for the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

On Thursday, vector control officials informed Santa Clarita officials that they had found evidence of the virus at Central Park on Bouquet Canyon Road, Dever said.

Vector control sets mosquito traps across 1,330 acres strategically selected around the county.

One of those traps set at Central Park on Sept. 12 captured 27 mosquitoes, which were ground up and then sampled for the virus. The sample tested positive, Dever said.

On Monday, organizers of local sports teams — including youth and adult league baseball, soccer and football teams — were alerted to the West Nile discovery at Central Park, said Rick Gould, director of parks, recreation and community services for Santa Clarita.

“We did send out a notification to sports teams,” Gould said today.

“This is our busiest time of the year,” he said. “You have every sport you can think of out there.”

County officials urged people to wear mosquito repellent while outside, , day or night.

County officials warn that the threat of West Nile virus has intensified with the emergence of a mosquito that “bites during the day,” as opposed to indigenous mosquitoes that come out at dusk.

“The Asian tiger mosquito is a day-biter,” Dassey said. “Historically, mosquitoes have been night-time activity (insects), but with the Asian tiger mosquito a person’s exposure period has lengthened.”

The Asian tiger mosquito first appeared in California in the ‘70s and ‘80s from the Far East, largely in tires that were shipped here from Asia, he said.




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