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WEST NILE HITS VALENCIA MOSQUITOES IN TWO RESIDENTIAL TRAPS TEST POSITIVE.

Byline: Patricia Farrell Aidem Staff Writer

VALENCIA - Mosquitoes collected from two traps set in residential areas in Valencia - near Meadows Park, Old Orchard Park and Vista Valencia Golf Course - tested positive for West Nile virus.

Officials with the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District said Tuesday that the results came Aug. 4 and last Friday after tests conducted by the state Department of Health Services and a diagnostic laboratory at the University of California, Davis.

The positive-testing mosquitoes were collected within an area bounded by McBean Parkway, Orchard Village Road, Lyons Avenue and Interstate 5, said Stephanie Heintz, a vector control spokeswoman.

August is the peak season for the virus, prompting vector control experts to urge residents to rid their properties of any stagnant water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

West Nile is a potentially deadly virus carried by migrant birds. While it is rare, humans can become infected if they are bitten by a mosquito infected by a bird - particularly crows in Southern California. Ten birds have been found dead of West Nile in Santa Clarita since February, eight of them this month.

Three elementary schools and a number of preschools fall within the area where the diseased mosquitoes were found, including Meadows School next to the park of the same name. School starts today and Newhall Schools Superintendent Marc Winger said his staff would clear any standing water and follow any other recommendations from the county.

``We'll do whatever they suggest,'' Winger said. ``We've had some construction, and with new construction you learn where puddles form. We'll inspect all our sites to make sure there's no puddling.''

Heintz said parents should not be overly concerned about their school-age children because mosquitoes tend to come out at dawn and dusk, not midday when classes are in session.

``Mosquitoes aren't active during the day, they're active after the sun goes down,'' Heintz said. ``We're more concerned about parks where people might be active in the evening.''

Vector control advised Santa Clarita city officials it would erect West Nile warning signs at the parks and the golf course.

Five people, mostly elderly with immune deficiencies, have died of the virus in California in the past year, none in Los Angeles County, Heintz said. There has been one confirmed case this year in the region - a woman from the San Fernando Valley.

People who contract the virus have symptoms including fever, headaches, body aches and nausea. People can be bitten by infected mosquitoes but show no sign of the virus.

The discovery in Valencia is not reason to panic, said Donna Nuzzi, the city's emergency services supervisor.

``Just because (two areas) test positive doesn't mean every mosquito is infected with West Nile,'' Nuzzi said. ``It's something we're going to have to live with.''

Residents who spot puddles of standing water can call the city's environmental services division at (661) 286-4098.

Staff Writer Judy O'Rourke contributed to this story.

Patricia Farrell Aidem, (661) 257-5251

pat.aidem(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 17, 2005
Words:497
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