Public health officials in Los Angeles have announced the county’s first two cases of human West Nile virus this season.
Both cases were among residents of the San Fernando Valley region, officials said.
The first case involves an older adult in recovery after being hospitalized with a neuroinvasive disease in early July. This person had no underlying illness, according to a press release from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The second case was detected in late July in a healthy blood donor, officials said. The positive blood units were discarded.
“West Nile virus continues to be a serious health threat to residents in Los Angeles County,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County health officer, in the press release. “We encourage residents to cover, clean, or get rid of items that can hold water and breed mosquitoes both inside and outside your home.”
“This is important now more than ever as we spend a majority of our time at home,” Davis said.
He added that Los Angeles County is in peak mosquito season, and advised residents to protect themselves from mosquito-borne illnesses by using EPA-registered mosquito repellent products.
Mosquito season in Los Angeles County starts in June and ends in November. Officials estimate that more than 10,000 Los Angeles residents are infected with the West Nile virus each year, but these cases are neither reported nor recognized as the virus. Most people do not develop illness, or only have mild illness.
The Los Angeles County Health Department has reported elevated numbers of West Nile virus cases over the last five years. More than 75 percent of reported cases were severe, and approximately seven percent of patients with severe West Nile virus died from complications.
Most mosquitoes do not carry West Nile virus. However, people bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus may develop a fever, muscle aches and tiredness, officials said. In rare, severe cases, the infection can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing meningitis, encephalitis and paralysis.
There is no vaccine to prevent infection, but the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health advises to:
- Use EPA-registered mosquito repellent products containing DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, among other ingredients.
- Make sure doors and windows at home have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes.
- Clear standing water outside your home and cover water storage containers like buckets and rain barrels.
Click here to see the full list of safety recommendations and precautions.