LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Officials are warning Los Angeles County residents to take steps to avoid catching the West Nile virus as dozens of lives are claimed across the nation.
KNX 1070′s Ed Mertz reports this year’s outbreak is on pace to become the biggest on record since the disease first was first recorded in the U.S. in 1999.
With 66 deaths nationwide, West Nile virus has shown up in six new cases stretching from Los Feliz to Chatsworth, marking at least 78 cases in Los Angeles County this year, well below the five-year average just one year after a similar outbreak countywide.
“West Nile virus is endemic to California,” said Truc Dever, Director of Community Affairs at the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.
Hot weather and stagnant pools of water are the perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes, especially when the barometer rises, according to Dever.
“It can go from egg to biting adults in as few as five days,” she said.
Last week, two birds in Santa Monica tested positive for West Nile in the densely-populated neighborhood between Ocean Avenue, Montana Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard.
This year’s outbreak has fanned out across the nation up to Northern California, down to Texas, and as far as New York City, where officials have announced plans to spray pesticide over Manhattan.
Crews continue to work year-round to eradicate mosquitoes that may be carrying the virus, but Dever said there are steps residents can take, including notifying vector control about stagnant pools of water where mosquitoes tend to lay eggs.
Residents are also urged to report dead birds to authorities and screen their home to ensure there are no gaps or holes that would allow mosquitoes inside.