City of Santa Monica officials have confirmed that a dead crow found in the city in late September tested positive for the West Nile virus.

The findings indicate that the virus is active in the mosquito population in Santa Monica.

The virus has been found in 56 ZIP codes within Los Angeles County.

Santa Monica officials are warning residents to take appropriate precautions.

Approximately 80 percent of all breeding of mosquitoes occurs at private homes.

Residents can reduce their chances of becoming infected with the West Nile virus by following the “Five Ds,” Santa Monica officials say:

– Drain — Reduce standing water in or near property by draining, removing, and frequently changing water in birdbaths, buckets, and outdoor containers.

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in areas with standing water and can become adults in as few as seven days.

Avoid overwatering to reduce water collection on lawns and pavement.

– Deny — Deny mosquitoes entry into homes by mosquito-proofing homes with tight-fitting screens on windows and doors.

– Dawn and Dusk — People should avoid spending time outside at dawn and dusk.

– Dress — People should wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for long periods or when mosquitoes are most active.

Clothing should be light-colored and made of tightly woven materials to keep mosquitoes away from the skin.

– DEET — For additional protection from mosquitoes, people should use an insect repellant containing 25 to 35 percent DEET (diethyltoluamide).

People should follow the instructions on the product label.

Repellants may irritate the eyes and mouth, so parents should avoid applying the repellant to children’s hands.

About 80 percent of people who contract West Nile virus will not show any symptoms, while 20 percent who become infected will experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches that last a few days.

Less than one percent will suffer a more severe infection, which may be marked by additional symptoms such as neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis.

In rare cases, death may occur.

A physician should be contacted if anyone develops symptoms such as high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, and severe headaches.

Mosquito-related complaints such as neglected ponds, pools, and spas should be reported to the Los Angeles County West Vector Control District, (310) 915-7370.

The following Web sites have more detailed information about West Nile virus:

www.lawestvector.org; www.lapublichealth.org/acd/; vectorwestnile; www.westnile.ca.gov

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