West Nile virus was detected in mosquitoes in Palm Springs for the first time this year, it was announced Monday.
The mosquitoes were trapped near East Vista Chino and North Palm Canyon Drive, according to the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.
Mosquitoes from 11 other traps on the north and middle shores of the Salton Sea also tested positive, raising this year's total of positive mosquito samples in the Coachella Valley to 14.
Two sentinel chickens -- chickens that have their blood testing to check for pathogens -- also tested positive for West Nile in July in the Mecca area, according to the district.
The traps in the Salton Sea area where mosquitoes tested positive were on 70th Avenue near Johnson, Lincoln, and Pierce streets; near 71st Avenue and Grant Street; along 72nd Avenue near Lincoln and Colfax streets; and near 73rd Avenue and Lincoln. The mosquitoes were collected between July 25 and July 30, according to the district.
"We are fortunate that we haven't had any people test positive for West Nile virus in the Coachella Valley so far this year, but the virus is now on both sides of the valley and everyone needs to be extra cautious," said district vector ecologist Gregory S. White.
District staff are ramping up mosquito surveillance and looking for breeding sites within a mile of the traps where the positive mosquitoes were found, according to a statement from the district.
On Friday, county health officials announced that a 60-year-old woman from southwest Riverside County was found infected with West Nile virus, the first confirmed human case countywide this year. She was hospitalized for treatment of virus-related symptoms was recovering at home.
On Aug. 1, Los Angeles County public health officials confirmed that Albert Shipman, 78, of Carson, died of West Nile Virus at a hospital on July 29. He was the first Los Angeles County resident to die of the disease.
"He was experiencing loss of memory, slurred speech and pain on his right side," his son, Alfonso Shipman, said in published remarks. "Then finally, about 10 days ago, they said it's West Nile. ... We were just devastated."
West Nile, especially dangerous to the very young and very old, is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk of serious illness to most people is low -- less than 1 percent of people infected can develop a neurological illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, according to the district.
Anyone with symptoms should call his or her doctor. For tips on preventing bites and mosquito-proofing a home, go to www.cvmvcd.org . To report mosquito problems, including unmaintained pools or standing water, call (760) 342-8287 or (888) 343-9399.
– City News Service.