PALMDALE – A European starling found dead Aug. 8 in west Palmdale has been confirmed as the Antelope Valley’s first bird death this year from West Nile virus. A west Palmdale resident found the dead bird near 30th Street West and Avenue P and reported it over the state’s telephone hotline for the West Nile virus, which is spread by mosquitoes that bite infected birds. “August and September is generally the peak season of virus transmission,” Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District entomologist Karen Mellor said. “Since infected mosquitoes are probably in other areas of the A.V. as well, people need to be aware of the potential danger and should also wear repellents when going to the evening events at the A.V. Fair.” Since the virus first turned up in the Antelope Valley in 2003, it has sickened and killed birds and horses, but so far no people, officials said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.The virus was detected in May in central Lancaster and in June in central Palmdale, both times in flocks of chickens kept by the mosquito-control district to detect mosquito-borne diseases. Last year, the virus killed 199 people nationwide, including 19 in California. This year, the virus has killed an elderly woman in Butte County. In Los Angeles County, the virus has been detected this year in four people, of whom two showed no symptoms of illness. Mosquito-abatement officials advised Antelope Valley residents to wear insect repellent when they are outside at dusk and dawn and to remove any standing water on their property. “The close proximity to the park and the fact that there are two Starlight Concerts, one Family Movie Night and other evening events scheduled there makes it even more crucial to use precautions,” Mellor said. Mosquito-control officials ask the public to help detect West Nile virus by reporting recently deceased birds – without obvious trauma – to the dead bird hotline at 1-(877)-WNV-BIRD (877)968-2473 or online at www.westnile.ca.gov. West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes that feed on the blood of infected birds and then pass it on to humans or other animals. The virus is not spread by person-to-person contact or by handling dead birds, experts said. Health officials say the risk of acquiring the virus is low. About 80 percent of people who become infected with the virus show no symptoms, and most of those who become ill show only mild flu-like symptoms. In rare cases, the virus can cause encephalitis and death. People older than 50 are most at risk for severe cases of the disease. There is no specific treatment for the virus. AT RISK – People at the highest risk of life-threatening disease are over age 50 or have weak immune systems from another illness. – Most mosquitoes do not have West Nile virus. – Eighty percent of infected people have no symptoms. People typically develop symptoms between three and 14 days after they are bitten by an infected mosquito. – Mild symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. They pass on their own. – Of those infected, one in 150 can develop severe symptoms or die. Severe symptoms can include high fever, neck stiffness, tremors, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. Neurological effects may be permanent. – The best way to fend off the disease is to protect against mosquito bites. Source: Los Angeles County Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention MOSQUITO TIPS – To reduce exposure to the virus, health officials suggest residents follow the precautions recommended for all mosquito-borne diseases: – Get rid of standing water, where mosquitoes can breed. Empty all small containers at least once a week, keep pools and spas chlorinated or drained. – Make sure lawn sprinklers are set so that the ground will dry completely before the next watering. – Get mosquito-eating fish (Gambusia affinis) for free from the mosquito district if you have sources that cannot be drained, such as fish ponds and large horse troughs. – Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants and use mosquito repellent containing DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon or eucalyptus when outdoors during dusk and dawn. – Keep tight-fitting screens on doors and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering homes. – Horse owners should make sure their horses are properly vaccinated. – Report stagnant pools and other backyard sources to the mosquito district so technicians can treat them. – The mosquito district can be reached at (661) 942-2917. Its Web site is www.avmosquito.org.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!