L.A. County confirms first human West Nile virus cases of the year

Public health officials on Thursday confirmed the first human cases of West Nile virus in Los Angeles County of the year.

Six cases were confirmed in Antelope, San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, with most patients hospitalized for the disease in late July and early August, the LA County Department of Health said in a news release. All patients recover.

LA County does not report cases in Long Beach or Pasadena, which operate their own public health departments; Neither city has publicly reported confirmed cases as of Thursday.

“This is a reminder that West Nile Virus is active in Los Angeles County every year and mosquito control is a shared responsibility,” said Leann Verdick, district manager for the Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.

Last year, the county reported 17 West Nile cases, resulting in 12 hospitalizations and one death, a significant decrease from 2020, which saw 93 cases, 79 hospitalizations and seven deaths.

The county has had an average of 91 confirmed West Nile cases over the past five years, although the actual number of cases is likely higher, as most of those infected have mild or no illness, leaving their cases unreported.

Three-fourths of reported cases were associated with serious illnesses, according to LA County health officials, and nearly 10% of patients with serious illnesses die from complications.

The announcement comes two weeks after the Orange County Health Care Agency reported its first confirmed infection of the year.

West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes, which can be found throughout LA County, and health officials are urging the public to take steps to protect themselves, especially adults 50 and older and those with chronic health conditions who are susceptible to are serious illnesses.

“Simple measures can reduce mosquitoes and mosquito bites, like protecting yourself and your family with insect repellent and removing standing water outside your home,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County Health Officer, in the press release. “West Nile virus can result in hospitalization or death, and by taking preventative measures now, residents can better protect themselves from infection and the serious neuroinvasive disease caused by this virus.”

The Ministry of Health also advised residents to avoid mosquito-infested areas at dawn and dusk and to wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers outdoors, especially in the early morning and evening hours.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-25/los-angeles-county-first-human-cases-of-west-nile-virus-this-year L.A. County confirms first human West Nile virus cases of the year

Alley Einstein

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