West Nile Virus returns to Los Angeles County

As of Aug. 5, two cases of West Nile Virus had turned up in L.A. County. The disease is spread in humans when a mosquito that's first bitten an infected bird then bites a person.
As of Aug. 5, two cases of West Nile Virus had turned up in L.A. County. The disease is spread in humans when a mosquito that's first bitten an infected bird then bites a person. James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Health officials say two Los Angeles County residents have been infected with the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus, the first human cases reported in the county so far this year.

A San Fernando Valley woman in her 60s was hospitalized with the infection in mid-July. In late July, a male blood donor in his 20s tested positive for the disease, although officials say he remains healthy.

West Nile is spread to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird.  Most infected people don’t get sick or show any symptoms. Those who do become ill typically experience fever, aches, rash and nausea that may require hospitalization. Elderly adults and people with weak immune systems are especially prone to severe symptoms.

Health officials say ways to prevent the spread of West Nile Virus include:

  •  Eliminating pools of stagnant water around homes. 
  • Avoiding mosquito-infested areas at dawn and dusk.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors.
  • Using insect repellant containing DEET when outdoors in mosquito prone areas
  • Reporting dead birds to the state's "Report A Dead Bird" website.

Last year in Los Angeles County,  officials reported 165 human cases of West Nile.  Of those, 122 people required hospitalization and nine of them died. 

Statewide,  35 human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported so far this year. That's about double the number of human cases as there were this time last year, according to California public agencies, as well as about double the number of dead birds that are part of the West Nile Virus process.

See the latest West Nile California map as of Friday, Aug. 8:

West Nile map

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