Feature: California residents alerted by rising West Nile Virus infections

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-07 11:11:48|Editor: Song Lifang
Video PlayerClose

By Liu Mei

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- Every morning, 47-year-old housewife Diana Ng, sterilizes her house and refreshes the water of her fish pond in the back yard. It has become a routine for many residents of Los Angeles since this summer.

"I read the news last month that some residents in Arcadia were tested positive for the West Nile Virus, which made me scared. I have many big fish and I can't drain out the water in the pond. What I can do is refresh it every day and put some chemicals in my garden, where the mosquitos might live," Diana told Xinhua on Thursday.

West Nile Virus (WNV) is an illness that mostly exists in birds, but can be transmitted to mosquitoes that bite infected birds. Humans can also contract the virus when they were bitten by infected mosquitoes.

This is all the new information Diana has learned from TV. She has been living on the outskirts of Los Angeles for decades, but had never heard of the WNV before.

According to the latest statistics released by California Department of Public Health at the end of September, there were 211 human cases in 18 counties that tested positive for the WNV in 2017. Los Angeles County is the hardest-hit, with 96 cases.

Three cases from San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Kern were confirmed dead in September due to the WNV. Moreover, 428 birds and 13 horses died due to the WNV. The number of infections is increasing, so the California Department of Public Health has to update the number every week.

In order to attract more residents' attention, an organization named The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District produced a song in the form of rap to educate people about mosquito-borne diseases.

"Did you know in just one week a mosquito can go from egg to adult?" "You gotta dump the water out, drain the water-flow..."

The catchy lyric educates people about draining out the water in vases or any container at your home, which can effectively prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.

The video has been viewed on Youtube for more than 31,000 times and got many positive comments like "it is an awesome rap" or "great job."

The first human WNV case was identified in a blood donation center in Northern California in August.

"Many people know about Zika since 2005, which is also transmitted from mosquitoes. Although WNV is not as serious as Zika, it still can infect humans. I would suggest people, especially kids and seniors use insect repellent when go outside," Rebecca Aronson, a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center of Southern California told Xinhua on Thursday.

In August, the WNV spread to a half of dozen cities of Los Angeles County, including Arcadia, Bellflower, Canoga Park, Palmdale and Winnetka.

Michelle Cheng, a resident of Winnetka, told Xinhua that the temperature in San Fernando Valley, where she lives, is always high and fit for the breeding of mosquitoes in summer. Therefore she has to use bug repellents for her two kids as the WNV hit the city.

Most people infected with the virus do not become seriously ill, but with flu-like symptoms. However, around 1 percent of them can develop a serious neurologic illness.

People who are 50 and older or who have pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure have the greatest risk of developing complications such as meningitis and encephalitis, health officials say.

"If anyone has symptom of fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headaches, I suggest they go to the doctor and take a test. In this season, we'd better not treat it simply as a flu or a regular cold. Though the peak of WNV is in August and September, the number is still increasing," Aronson added.

First appearing in New York in 1999, the WNV has caused more than 2,000 deaths in the United States. So far this year, it has caused 49 deaths in 22 states. There has been no vaccine or specific treatment for this virus.