West Nile Virus Found in El Dorado Park Birds


For the first time this season, West Nile Virus has been detected in dead animals found within Long Beach city limits, prompting the city’s Health Department to release a warning detailing how residents can protect themselves from transmission. 

Though no human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Southern California so far this year, the discovery of two infected American crows at El Dorado Park this week has put local authorities on alert, as this marks the spread of the disease from the nearby harbor area, where it was discovered in mosquitos last month. 

The East Long Beach birds were tested by the State Department of Public Health’s WNV Surveillance System, which monitors the disease in humans, horses, chickens, mosquitoes and dead birds. In light of the discovery of infected animals, the Long Beach Health Department has confirmed that the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District, which monitors the eastern part of the City, will be increasing surveillance and treatment of active mosquito breeding areas, such as standing-water zones.

The Long Beach Health Department Vector Control Program, which serves the western portion of the city, also will be increasing surveillance and treatment services in response to this information.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Signs and symptoms of the infection may include fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headache. Most people infected have no symptoms; approximately 1 in 150 may develop a more serious disease, such as brain inflammation or paralysis. Persons with these symptoms should seek immediate medical care.

Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Mitchell Kushner encourages residents to take the following precautions:

  • Avoid mosquito-infested areas, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. 
  • Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Eliminate standing water on your property by dumping or draining water in neglected ponds, birdbaths, fountains, buckets, old tires or anything that can hold water. Dumping or draining water interrupts the mosquito life cycle. 
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants if you plan to be outdoors at dawn or dusk. 
  • Use mosquito repellant containing DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Residents should follow instructions on the label. Consult with your child’s pediatrician for appropriate concentrations of DEET to be used on children under the age of two.
  • Keep tight-fitting screens on doors and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering homes, and check to make sure your window screens are in good condition. 
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, and drain water from pool covers. 
  • Limit the watering of lawns and outdoor plants to twice a week to prevent runoff to gutters and around sprinklers.

Report dead birds and dead tree squirrels to the California Department of Public Health by calling 1-877-WNV-Bird or online atwww.westnile.ca.gov. For further information, contact the City of Long Beach Health Department, Vector Control Program, at562.570.4132 or online at www.longbeach.gov/health and click on “West Nile Virus.”

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Sarah Bennett is a contributor to the Hi-lo and the editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post. She is also a professor at Santa Ana College where she was once a student before transferring to USC to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sarah has written about music, art, food and beer in local, national and international publications for over a decade. An L.A. native and longtime resident of Long Beach, she is the co-founder of Long Beach Zine Fest and managing editor at theLAnd magazine. She never sleeps.