First Human Cases of West Nile Virus This Year Found in Los Angeles County

First Human Cases of West Nile Virus This Year Found in Los Angeles County
West Nile virus has hit hard in Texas, where officials have ordered nightly aerial spraying to combat the mosquito-borne illness. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
City News Service

LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles County health officials have confirmed the county’s first human cases of West Nile virus this year, saying six cases have been identified since late July.

No specifics about the patients were released on Aug. 25—but according to the county Department of Public Health, the victims live in the Antelope Valley, San Fernando Valley, and San Gabriel Valley.

Most of the patients were hospitalized in late July and early August, and all are recovering, according to the county.

“Mosquitoes thrive in hot weather and residents should follow simple steps to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquito-borne diseases, such as West Nile virus,” county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said in a statement.

According to the state, a total of 18 human cases of West Nile virus had been confirmed in California as of last Friday, including one in Pasadena, which has its own health department separate from the county. Orange County announced a human case earlier this month.

The West Nile virus season typically runs from summer through fall, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People catch it from a bite from an infected mosquito, which contracts the virus when it feeds on an infected bird.

Most people infected with the virus do not feel sick, but about 1 in 5 who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms, according to the health department. About 1 in 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness, its data show.

Because there is no human vaccine or cure for West Nile virus, health officials recommend that people use mosquito repellent. The department recommends products with the active ingredients DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus as being safe and effective against mosquitoes that can transmit diseases when used according to the labels.

“Simple measures can reduce mosquitoes and mosquito bites, like protecting yourself and your family with insect repellent and removing standing water outside your home. West Nile virus can lead to hospitalization or death, and, by taking preventative steps now, residents can better protect themselves against infection and the serious neuro-invasive disease caused by this virus.”

Other steps residents should take include the following:
  • eliminating standing water in clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, discarded tires, buckets, watering troughs, or anything that holds water for more than a week
  • ensuring that swimming pools, spas, and ponds are properly maintained
  • changing the water in pet dishes, bird baths, and other small containers weekly
  • requesting mosquitofish from your local vector control district for placement in ornamental ponds
  • reporting neglected (green) swimming pools in your neighborhood to your vector control district
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