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West Nile Virus Detected in Santa Monica

Vector control picks up two infected birds in the 90402 and 90404 zip codes.

Two birds found in Santa Monica between May and August have tested positive for West Nile Virus, a disease spread by mosquitoes.

In a public health advisory dated July 27 and posted only within the last week to the city's website, the Los Angeles County West Vector & Vector-Borne Disease Control District reported having picked a second, infected dead bird this year in the city.

It was an American crow recorded July 23 in the 90402 zip code, an area bounded by San Vicente Boulevard, Montana Avenue, the ocean and 26th Street.

The first bird to test positive in Santa Monica was May 17 in the mid-city neighborhood of 90404.

West Nile Virus is transmitted via mosquitoes, which become infected by first feeding on birds that carry the virus.

The vector district tracks information about where the infected birds are picked up to identify trends, but cautioned the birds could have been infected elsewhere because they travel many miles to feed and scavenger.

"Given the birds' migratory patterns, it is not uncommon for them to travel up to 10 miles away fom their sleeping location," said Lt. Darrell Lowe of the Santa Monica Police Department, which handles the city's animal control services.

In the health advisory, the vector control district advised the city to make the news known to Santa Monica residents "so people walking or sitting outside at dawn or dust will take the appropriate precautions... to protect themselves from being bitten by infected mosquitoes."

As of Friday, 72 dead birds and one chicken have tested positive for West Nile Virus in the Greater Los Angles Vector Control District's jurisdiction.

The agency's executive director did not return messages seeking comment.

This summer has seen one of the largest outbreaks of West Nile Virus since the mosquito-borne illness first appeared in North America in 1999, officials from the Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday.

Nationally, 1,118 human cases have been reported in 2012 with the CDC recording 41 deaths so far. Four of the 34 statewide human cases of illness linked to the virus were reported in Los Angeles County.

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