FOR THE BIRDS CHICKENS ARE ON FRONT LINES IN WEST NILE FIGHT.Byline: Carol Rock Staff Writer
VALENCIA - Reaching into a squawking flurry of feathers, Paul O'Connor skillfully grasped his quarry - a flustered flus·ter
tr. & intr.v. flus·tered, flus·ter·ing, flus·ters
To make or become nervous or upset.
A state of agitation, confusion, or excitement. white leghorn White leghorn
a pure white, egg-laying breed of poultry with bright yellow legs and bill. The comb, face and wattles are red, the earlobes are white. chicken sporting a numbered silver shoulder band.
Pulling back the chicken's wings, O'Connor carefully handed it to his partner, Jacqueline Spoehel, who placed the bird on a towel draped drape
v. draped, drap·ing, drapes
1. To cover, dress, or hang with or as if with cloth in loose folds: draped the coffin with a flag; a robe that draped her figure. across her lap, positioning it to avoid any fowl reactions.
As the chicken lay still, Spoehel punctured a vein under the chicken's wing and drew a minuscule blood sample. She handed the syringe to O'Connor, who spread the red liquid across a paper strip marked with the chicken's serial number as Spoehel smoothed the bird's feathers reassuringly.
``Jackie gives them a facial,'' O'Connor chided as Spoehel rubbed her last chicken's neck Chicken's Neck is the name of two separate areas or strips of land in India. Northeast
The Chicken's Neck or Siliguri Corridor is a narrow stretch of land which connects India's north-eastern states to the rest of India. and comb. ``I just stick 'em back in the cage.''
This pampered pam·per
tr.v. pam·pered, pam·per·ing, pam·pers
1. To treat with excessive indulgence: pampered their child.
2. poultry is part of Los Angeles County Vector Control's front-line defense against West Nile virus West Nile virus, microorganism and the infection resulting from it, which typically produces no symptoms or a flulike condition. The virus is a flavivirus and is related to a number of viruses that cause encephalitis. , the mosquito-borne, sometimes fatal disease that health officials say is rapidly approaching Southern California.
West Nile virus is transmitted to people and animals by infected mosquitoes. The majority of people and animals infected with the virus have no symptoms and about 20 percent of those infected develop a mild flulike illness.
In rare cases, the virus can cause encephalitis encephalitis (ĕnsĕf'əlī`təs), general term used to describe a diffuse inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, usually of viral origin, often transmitted by mosquitoes, in contrast to a bacterial infection of the meninges , an inflammation of the brain. Older people are particularly susceptible and most fatal cases have been recorded in patients over 50. In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed 4,156 human cases and 284 deaths attributed to West Nile virus. Nearly half of the fatalities occurred in the states hardest hit by the virus: Illinois with 884 cases and 64 fatalities and Michigan with 614 cases and 51 deaths.
Authorities are on high alert status. ``It's not a matter of if, but when the virus will arrive,'' said Minoo Madon, scientific technical services director of the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.
O'Connor and Spoehel are vector ecologists working in a clandestine Santa Clarita Valley The Santa Clarita Valley is the valley of the Santa Clara River in Southern California. It stretches through Los Angeles County and Ventura County. Its main population center is the city of Santa Clarita. The valley was part of the 48,612-acre (19,672. location with one of the five ``sentinel flocks,'' chickens that live a comfortable life in shaded enclosures with regular meals and the occasional massage.
The other four flocks in the district are in Encino, Griffith Park, Whittier Narrows and Machado Lake/Wilmington. Flocks are maintained weekly and tested for St. Louis encephalitis St. Louis encephalitis
see St. Louis encephalitis. and Western equine encephalitis western equine encephalitis
see equine viral encephalomyelitis; abbreviated WEE. every other week. Those birds testing positive for St. Louis encephalitis are further tested for West Nile virus.
``We should be concerned about the spread of West Nile because it is devastating dev·as·tate
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark. to the wild bird population,'' Spoehel explained. ``It is especially fatal in raptors, such as hawks, owls, crows and ravens.''
Mosquitoes are particularly attracted to white leghorn chickens and will bite them before pursuing human prey. A separate division of the district handles inspection and treatment of mosquito breeding sources to preserve public health.
Residents can also protect themselves from mosquito bites by taking simple precautions, such as emptying standing pools of water from their back yards, wearing long sleeves and pants during early morning and evening hours, and using mosquito repellent.
With West Nile virus heading toward California, residents are being asked to prevent mosquitoes from breeding by eliminating water sources - which the insects use to breed - from their properties.
That means not allowing stagnant water to sit in old tires, flowerpots, trash bins, swimming pools, birdbaths and pet bowls.
Other anti-mosquito-breeding measures include:
--Cleaning and chlorinating swimming pools.
--Draining water from pool covers.
--Stocking garden ponds with goldfish or mosquito fish, which eat mosquito eggs and larvae Larvae, in Roman religion
Larvae: see lemures. .
--Emptying and washing birdbaths and wading pools every few days.
Residents can also reduce their risk to all mosquito-borne diseases by:
--Avoiding mosquito-infested areas at dawn and dusk.
--Wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants when going outdoors.
--Using insect-repellent products.
--Making sure home windows have screens without holes in them.
3 photos, box
(1 -- 2 -- color) At far left, county vector ecologist Jacqueline Spoehel takes blood from a chicken, which vector ecologist Paul O'Connor, near left, test for presence of West Nile virus.
(3 -- color) Paul O'Connor, a biologist with Los Angeles County Vector Control, prepares to test a chicken for West Nile virus.
David R. Crane/Staff Photographer
CONTROL MOSQUITOS (see text)