For Immediate Release:
August 12, 2020
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has confirmed the first death due to West Nile virus (WNV) for the 2020 season in Los Angeles County. The patient, an elderly resident of the South Los Angeles area, was hospitalized and died from WNV-associated neuro-invasive disease.
“West Nile virus continues to be a serious health threat to residents in Los Angeles County. We encourage residents to check for items that can hold water and breed mosquitoes, both inside and outside their homes, and to cover, clean or clear out those items. Residents should protect themselves from diseases spread by mosquitoes by using EPA-registered mosquito repellent products, especially during the peak mosquito season which lasts from June to November in Los Angeles County,” said Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Health Officer.
Humans get WNV through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most mosquitoes do not carry the virus; therefore, most people bitten by a mosquito are not exposed to WNV. Those who do get WNV may experience mild symptoms including fever, muscle aches, and tiredness. In some cases, especially in persons over 50 years of age and those with chronic medical conditions such as cancer and diabetes, severe WNV infection can occur and affect the brain and spinal cord causing meningitis, encephalitis, and paralysis. There is no specific treatment for WNV disease and no vaccine to prevent infection.
A total of five cases have been documented in Los Angeles County so far this year (excluding Long Beach and Pasadena as cases identified in those cities are reported by their local health departments). WNV-infected mosquitoes, dead birds, and sentinel chickens have been identified across Los Angeles County. Public Health monitors cases of WNV infection and collaborates with local vector control agencies to reduce the risk of WNV to humans by promoting prevention and mosquito reduction.
Recovery from WNV can take months or years. One study showed that 12 months after infection, about half of those with this disease continued to have cognitive and physical impairment such as memory loss, difficulty walking and fatigue. Decrease your risk of exposure:
1. PROTECT YOURSELF: Mosquito repellents can keep mosquitoes from biting you. EPA-registered repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, 2-undecanone, and oil of lemon eucalyptus are the longest lasting and most effective. They are available as sprays, wipes, and lotions. Find the repellent that’s right for you here. Consider wearing long-sleeved clothes and pants when outside.
2. MOSQUITO PROOF YOUR HOME: Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
3. REDUCED MOSQUITOES: Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water.
More information and resources:
Where to call with questions about mosquitoes:
Stagnant swimming pools or “green pools” should be reported to the Public Health Environmental Health Bureau at (626) 430-5200, or to a local vector control agency. Dead birds may be reported by calling (877) 968-2473 or online: http://www.westnile.ca.gov/report_wnv.php.
The Department of Public Health is committed to promoting health equity and ensuring optimal health and well-being for all 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health comprises nearly 4,500 employees and has an annual budget of $1.2 billion. To learn more about Los Angeles County Public Health, please visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov, and follow LA County Public Health on social media at twitter.com/lapublichealth, facebook.com/lapublichealth, instagram.com/lapublichealth and youtube.com/lapublichealth.