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West Nile Precautions Urged in O.C.

June 27, 2004|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Vector Control District has found the West Nile virus in 17 dead birds from throughout the county, while the state Department of Health Services has discovered the virus in mosquito pools in Brea.

The results indicate a strong possibility that the virus will affect someone in Orange County in the near future, officials said.

"There's a fairly well-established pattern," said Howard Sutter, spokesman for the Orange County Health Care Agency. "You find it first in birds, in mosquito pools second and human cases come next."

Ten people statewide have been infected with West Nile. All have recovered or are recovering, officials said.

It had been predicted that California would be hard hit by the disease, which is transmitted through the bite of mosquitoes, which infect humans and other animals.

The disease has killed nearly 600 people nationwide since 1999.

"We have not had human cases in Orange County yet," Sutter said, "but the likelihood is that they will occur, and we want people to do things they can to protect themselves."

Precautions include eliminating standing water from your property to reduce mosquito breeding; using insect repellent containing DEET; making sure window and door screens are in good condition; limiting outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

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