Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Health officials announce first death this year in LA County due to West Nile virus

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Health officials on Thursday reported the first death of the year in Los Angeles County attributed to West Nile virus.

The patient, who was not identified, lived in the San Fernando Valley, was hospitalized and died from West Nile-associated neuro-invasive disease, according to the county Department of Public Health.

“I send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of this resident who sadly passed away from West Nile virus,” Dr. Muntu Davis, the county health officer, said in a statement. “Their death reminds us how important it is to protect ourselves from mosquitoes and prevent them from breeding near our homes. Using mosquito repellent and keeping mosquitoes out of our homes can help prevent West Nile virus.”

Humans are infected with the virus through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Most people who are infected generally experience no or mild symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches and fatigue.

People over age 50 and those with chronic medical conditions can be come more seriously ill, possibly affecing the brain and spinal cord, leading to meningitis, encephalitis or paralysis, health officials said.

So far this year, 19 human cases of the virus have been confirmed in the county — excluding Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own health departments separate from the county.

Experts suggest the following steps to prevent spread of the virus:

— empty standing water where mosquitoes can breed;

— ensure that window and door screens are still effective;

— use inspect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or products that contain IR3535;

— cut down on outdoor activity at dawn and dust when mosquitoes are most active; and

— wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

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