Los Angeles County Department of Health Services is reporting a death from locally acquired West Nile Virus. The victim is a 62-year-old male from the eastern region of the county who passed away last week. This is the third reported death for WNV from Los Angeles County Health Department and the fourth for a resident of Los Angeles County.
“West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can be prevented by taking several precautions,” said Jonathan Fielding, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Public Health and County Health Officer. “The risk of infection can be reduced by eliminating sources of standing water, and taking personal protection measures. These include the use of insect repellant containing DEET, wearing long sleeves and long pants in areas with mosquitoes and avoiding mosquito infested areas, especially around dusk and dawn.”
The total number of confirmed cases of WNV infection in the county is 74 (for the Los Angeles County Health Department); 69 cases have been symptomatic and 5 cases are asymptomatic blood donors.
Exposure to West Nile Virus WNV is spread to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito; biting a bird that carries the virus infects a mosquito. Most mosquitoes do not carry the virus and most people bitten by a mosquito have not been exposed to the virus. The virus is NOT spread by person-to-person contact or directly from birds to humans.
Fewer than one out of 150 people who are bitten by an infected mosquito get severely ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In most cases people who are infected never become sick or have symptoms that include fever, headache, nausea, body aches and a skin rash not resulting in hospitalization or not life threatening. The virus can in rare cases cause encephalitis and death. The elderly are most at risk for severe cases of the disease. There is no specific treatment for the West Nile virus. In a serious case, an individual may be hospitalized to ensure good supportive care.