Health

Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus found in LA County for first time in 2016

File: A mosquito sits on a stick April 9, 2009 in Martinez, California.
File: A mosquito sits on a stick April 9, 2009 in Martinez, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

West Nile virus has reappeared in L.A. County.

A sample collected in early April from a mosquito trap in Sun Valley returned positive for the virus a couple of days after was sent out for testing, said Levy Sun from the county's vector control district.

No confirmed reports of infections have yet surfaced in 2016, but there has been an increase in human infection over the years, Sun said. Last year, 300 cases were reported in L.A. County by the Public Health Department.

“It’s great that the public is informed about Zika,” Sun said. “But we can’t forget that, every year, West Nile virus is a more serious threat to Southern Californian families.”

The virus is transmitted to people and animals through a bite by an infected mosquito — and there's no cure. One in five people infected will exhibit symptoms similar to those of the flu. Severe manifestations of the virus can include paralysis, coma and possibly death.

Sun told KPCC that, most of the time, mosquito issues don’t start in public places — like parks, which they monitor — but somewhere people might not expect.

“A lot of the issues come out of people’s own backyards, and they may not even know it," Sun said.

Any water left standing in places like pet bowls, swimming pools or flower pots for an extended period of time can create the ideal breeding habitat for mosquitoes. To avoid being infected or attracting mosquitoes, Sun recommends weekly routine checks in your yard for standing water, as well as other basic precautions, such as wearing insect repellent when leaving the house.