Orange County Woman Dies From West Nile

Elderly woman had underlying health conditions, but died of complications from the virus, tests show.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An elderly woman died from severe complications related to the West Nile virus, making it the first death related to the illness in Southern California. Vikki Vargas reports for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. from Santa Ana Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.

    An elderly Orange County woman who died last week had the most severe form of the West Nile virus, tests results have confirmed.

    The Seal Beach resident died from complications of the virus, making her the first fatality in the county from the disease this year.

    The woman also had underlying medical conditions, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

    She contracted the most severe form of the infection, West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease. Orange County has recorded 40 reports of West Nile Virus to date this year, compared to five last year. Four of the cases were discovered in blood donors as part of a regular screening process, the OCHCA said.

    The Facts About the West Nile Virus

    [LA] The Facts About the West Nile Virus
    Dr. Bruce Hensel has the symptoms and stats about the West Nile virus for you on NBC4 News at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.

    "This unfortunate death shows how serious West Nile Virus infection can be,” said Dr. Eric G. Handler, county health officer, in a statement. “West Nile Virus activity tends to peak in August and September in Orange County, but we continue to have cases occur throughout the fall. It is important for people to remember that the end of summer does not mean the end of West Nile Virus season.”

    Officials urged residents to use caution as the season continues, and to take steps to mitigate mosquito breeding and access, including:

    • Use insect repellent or lemon eucalyptus oil on children under the age of three to deter mosquito bites.
    • Be aware and avoid outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours, which are generally dawn and dusk.
    • Wear long sleeves and pants to protect skin when outdoors.
    • Drain standing water, empty unused flower pots and pools.
    • Keep tight-fitting screens closed.

    Orange County has recorded 36 cases of West Nile patients exhibiting symptoms this year.

    Vector Control officials say Seal Beach isn't a hotbed of mosquito activity. They've had two positive results from traps set at the Naval Weapons Station. Santa Ana remains the biggest concern, where 22 people have tested positive for West Nile.

    The American Red Cross says they've uncovered 4,400 cases of West Nile in donors across the country over the last decade. The blood is usually destroyed.

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