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OCWD aids West Nile fight

September 04, 2003

In its ongoing attempt to help combat the West Nile virus, the Orange

County Water District announced last week that it will donate $20,000

to research.

Since research began in 1997, the research team has identified

trends that have led to larger populations of mosquitoes, the primary

carriers of the disease. The mosquito population swelled when ponds

were drained to clear out vegetation.

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Future research will focus on how to decrease mosquito populations

in wetlands areas.

"The main purpose is to evaluate the mosquito biology -- what

makes mosquitoes more productive in some areas than others and how

that relates to water quality," said Greg Woodside, planning and

watershed management director with the Orange County Water District.

"The wetlands that we create have a potential to allow breeding of

mosquitoes, but we're learning how to construct the wetlands to

minimize that.

The district has partnered with the Northwest Mosquito and Vector

Control District and Cal State San Bernardino and spent $68,000 on

mosquito control research.

The research is performed at a 365-acre constructed wetlands

behind the Prado Dam in Corona.

West Nile virus, which has plagued the East Coast for several

years, can be deadly in some instances. Only about 20% of those

infected with the virus will develop West Nile fever, and of those,

only about one in 150 will suffer a severe case of the disease.

Symptoms in the most severe forms include headache, high fever,

neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions,

muscle weakness and paralysis. More common symptoms are fever,

headache and body aches, skin rashes and swollen lymph glands.

The last human case in California was in 1997 in Los Angeles. The

last outbreak occurred in 1989, when 29 of the state's residents

contracted the disease.

Assembly OKs bill protecting sand dunes

A bill that would set aside a seven-acre patch of sand dunes in

Southwest Huntington Beach as protected land passed the Assembly on

Thursday with a unanimous vote.

Authored by Assemblyman Tom Harman, the bill would authorize

Caltrans to hand over the property to the Huntington Beach Wetlands

Conservancy, a nonprofit group that will then restore the dunes to

their natural state.

The ultimate goal of the conservancy, which was formed in 1985, is

to restore a long strip of wetlands that stretches from the mouth of

the Santa Ana River to Beach Boulevard.

The transfer is intended to offset environmental effects caused by

Caltrans during highway construction projects.

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