The Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District Monday announced the first mosquito batch this season that has tested positive for the West Nile virus.
The mosquitoes were found near Garden Grove Boulevard and Newhope Street last Tuesday, and the lab results confirmed the virus on Thursday, said Mary-Joy Coburn of the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District.
“It’s definitely later in the season than when we normally find West Nile virus in birds or mosquitoes,” Coburn said. “We’re hoping this is a mild season.”
It could just mean that the virus got off to a late start this year, or it could be that a public awareness campaign to reduce standing water and other breeding grounds for the mosquitoes is working, Coburn said.
The agency started its public awareness campaign earlier this year, and it now includes messaging on the Next Door social media platform, which has a more hyper-local focus than the usual billboards and bus stop signs.
Coburn praised the county’s cities for “being really more proactive in getting the word out.”
Officials will post signs and hand out fliers in the neighborhood where the infected mosquitoes were found, she said.
Most people who contract the virus do not experience any symptoms, but others feel like they have the flu and can have a fever, headache and body aches. Some require hospitalization, and, although rare, it can kill some people. Young children and the elderly or people with a weakened immune system are especially at risk of serious illness.
Mosquitoes become infected when biting a bird that carries the virus, and then the insects transmit the infection to humans. No birds have been found with the virus so far.
The district has not found any signs yet so far this year of the Chikungunya, Dengue or Zika viruses.