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Ventura County Gets Mosquito Hotline

Region & State

August 25, 2004|From a Times Staff Writer

Concern over West Nile virus has prompted Ventura County health officials to establish a mosquito complaint hotline.

Residents can call (805) 658-4310 to report potential breeding areas created from improperly maintained swimming pools, fountains, ponds and other sources on private property, said Randy Smith of the county's Environmental Health Division.

Last week, officials announced that a 32-year-old man had become the first person in the county to contract the virus. He is expected to recover. That case, combined with the 30 to 40 calls the environmental health office receives daily about potential problems, led to the hotline, Smith said.

Once a hotline complaint is found to be valid, a county inspector will oversee treatment of the site and talk to the property owner about corrective measures, he said. Those who fail a follow-up inspection could face fines or other sanctions, Smith said.

So far, nine people in California have died from the virus, most of them seniors. People contract the virus from mosquitoes that have bitten infected birds. About 20% of people infected feel flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headaches and rash. About one in 150 develops encephalitis or meningitis, and less than 1% of those infected die from the illness.

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