Los Angeles–The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has identified the first two cases of human West Nile virus infection in Los Angeles County for the 2019 season (excluding Long Beach and Pasadena as cases identified in those cities are reported by their local health departments). A resident of the San Fernando Valley region and a resident of the southeastern region of Los Angeles County are recovering after becoming ill at the end of July.
West Nile virus (WNV) is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea, body aches, and a mild skin rash. WNV can affect the nervous system and result in meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis and even death. People over 50 years of age and those with chronic health problems are at higher risk of severe illness. While not all mosquitoes carry this virus, the type of mosquito that spreads this virus is found throughout Los Angeles County.
Public Health recommends the following actions to reduce the risk of West Nile virus infection:
- Avoid mosquito-infested areas at dawn and dusk.
- Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you are outdoors, particularly at these times and when in areas where more mosquitoes are present.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. These are effective defenses against mosquitoes when used as labeled.
- Check your window screens for holes to make sure that mosquitoes cannot enter your home.
- Dump stagnant water. Do not allow water to collect and stagnate in old tires, flowerpots, swimming pools, birdbaths, pet bowls, or other containers. These are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools; drain water from pool covers.
- Stock garden ponds with goldfish or other mosquito-eating fish. These eat mosquito eggs and larvae.
- Empty and wash birdbaths and wading pools weekly.
- Cover rain barrels and empty weekly
The number of people infected with WNV each year in LA County is estimated to be more than 10,000, because most infected persons do not experience any illness or perhaps only mild illness.