Public health officials Monday confirmed the year's first two human cases of West Nile virus in Los Angeles County, but both patients are recovering.
According to the county Department of Public Health, the patients are a resident of the San Fernando Valley and a resident in the "southeastern region" of the county. The county health agency does not monitor the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, which both have their own health departments, but neither of those municipalities has reported any human West Nile infections this year.
According to state health officials, there had only been four human cases reported in California as of Friday -- in Stanislaus, Fresno, San Bernardino and Imperial counties. The patient in Imperial County died.
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The two Los Angeles County patients reported Monday are both recovering after becoming ill at the end of July, health officials said.
"Every year in Los Angeles County, we see cases of West Nile virus infection, which can be serious, even deadly, especially for people over 50 and those who have existing health problems," Dr. Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County's health officer, said in a statement. "Mosquito bites aren't just annoying, they may make you sick. So everyone should take protective action by using mosquito repellent when outdoors and getting rid of items in their homes or yards that collect standing water where mosquitoes can breed."
The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District announced last week the discovery of West Nile virus-positive mosquitoes in Bellflower, following an earlier discovery in Long Beach.
West Nile is transmitted to people and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms from contracting the disease can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea or a skin rash, according to the department. The symptoms can last for several days to months.
Health and vector-control officials offered tips for mitigating mosquito habitats, including:
- eliminating standing water in clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, discarded tires, buckets, watering troughs or anything that holds water for more than a week;
- ensuring that swimming pools, spas and ponds are properly maintained;
- changing the water in pet dishes, birdbaths and other small containers weekly;
- requesting "mosquitofish" from the local vector control district for placement in ornamental ponds;
- wearing insect repellent when outdoors where mosquitoes may be present; and
- reporting neglected (green) swimming pools to the vector control district.
More information can be found here.