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WEST NILE DETECTED IN LOCAL PARKS TRAPS CATCH VIRUS-CARRYING MOSQUITOES.

Byline: Eugene Tong Staff Writer

VALENCIA - As Jerry Herring teed off Wednesday at Vista Valencia Golf Course clad in shorts and a short-sleeve polo shirt, the 75-year-old shrugged off fears of mosquitoes and the potentially deadly virus they may be carrying.

``I sprayed (repellent) before I came to the course,'' said Herring, a Saugus resident, as he played on a course tagged with county signs warning of West Nile virus danger in the area. ``I got a wife that won't let me go out of the house if I don't.''

A day after the county Vector Control District said mosquitoes from two traps in Valencia and Newhall neighborhoods tested positive for the virus, placards warning residents to be aware of the danger have gone up at three local recreation areas - the golf course, Valencia Meadows Park and Old Orchard Park.

``We're not discouraging people from actually using the recreation areas,'' said Stephanie Heintz, spokeswoman for the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District. ``We just want to give them more information - that they take some precautions if they're going to be out there between dawn and dusk.''

The mosquitoes were collected in the neighborhoods bounded by McBean Parkway, Orchard Village Road, Lyons Avenue and Interstate 5, the agency said.

West Nile is carried by migrant birds - humans can catch it if they are bitten by mosquitoes that have been in contact with infected birds - particularly crows. Since February 2005, 10 birds in the Santa Clarita area have tested positive for the disease - eight were found in August.

People who contract the virus could have symptoms including fever, headaches, body aches and nausea, though some may show no signs of infection.

There has been only one confirmed case this year in Los Angeles County - a woman from the San Fernando Valley. Five people, mostly elderly with weaker immune systems, have died in California over the past year.

Heintz said her agency continues to monitor for stagnant ponds - prime mosquito breeding grounds - throughout the county, and has taken action when necessary. Ponds such as those at the Vista Valencia course have been stocked with mosquito-eating fish, and are treated with chemicals.

Still, she urged park visitors and residents in the impacted neighborhoods to prevent getting bitten - that means using repellent with DEET and being cautious when going out in the evening, when mosquitoes are most active.

Most visitors to the golf course seemed to have gotten the message.

``You gotta spray,'' said Tom Newmann, 62, of Stevenson Ranch. ``When you're out, you got to keep some caution on.''

Asked if these viral fears have affected his game, he said: ``It was bad to start with, and it's still bad.''

Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253

eugene.tong(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) County officials have posted signs at several local recreation areas warning that the West Nile virus has been detected.

(2) Jerry Herring, 75, center, is not letting reports that the West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes at the Vista Valencia Golf Course keep him from the game.

David Crane/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Aug 18, 2005
Words:516
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