West Nile Virus Detected in Los Angeles, Orange Counties

By Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
August 10, 2021 Updated: August 11, 2021

Health officials from Los Angeles County and Orange County identified several cases of human West Nile virus I (WNV) infection in the county for the 2021 season.  

The Los Angeles County Department of Health released a statement Aug. 3 saying that a resident of the South Bay area contracted the virus in late July and is currently recovering. Several WNV-infected mosquitoes were found in Orange County on Aug. 6; so far, there have been no Orange County residents infected, Heather Hyland of the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District told reporters Aug. 8.

Aaron Araguy of the Los Angeles County West Vector Control District told the Epoch Times residents experiencing flu-like symptoms who have had encounters with mosquitoes a few days prior to the symptoms should report their case to the health department.  

“The primary thing is to remove any standing water around your home,” Araguy said. “Mosquitoes need water to breed and develop, so removing standing water—even small amounts of water like in a saucer, or under a plant—that’s enough for mosquitoes to breed.” 

Last month, The California Department of Public Health confirmed a San Luis Obispo County resident died from WNV infection.  

West Nile virus is a virus that can cause symptoms including fever, headache, nausea, body aches and a mild skin rash; in severe cases, WNV can attack the nervous system and result in meningitis, encephalitis or paralysis. The virus is spread through mosquito bites. Wild birds are the main carriers of the virus and transmit the disease to mosquitoes who bite them. The virus is then spread to humans through mosquito bites; it is not spread from person to person.  

“We all have to take steps to prevent West Nile virus infections. Spread by mosquitoes, this virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States,” Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis told a local media outlet. Davis said there are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people.  

About 118 cases of WNV are reported to the Los Angeles County Department of Health every year, according to the health department’s statement. “However, the total number of people infected with WNV each year in LA County is much higher as most infected persons do not experience any illness or only mild illness,” the statement read.  

The health department’s statement advised residents to steer clear of known mosquito-infested areas. The department also advised people to use bug repellent spray, to use screen doors, to wear clothing that covers most of their body, and to regularly empty and clean swimming pools, birdbaths and ponds. 

“Mosquitoes bite during the day and night. So, once a week empty and scrub, turn over, cover or throw out items that hold water, both indoors and outdoors. This stops mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water. Protect yourself and family from mosquito bites by using EPA-registered mosquito repellent products, as directed, and wear clothing that covers arms and legs, especially during the peak mosquito season which lasts from June to November in Los Angeles County,” Davis said.  

The Los Angeles Health Department declined to comment for this article.  

Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte