First West Nile Virus Death Reported in LA

 



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 2021 season in Los Angeles County. The patient, a resident of the eastern region of Los Angeles County, was hospitalized and died from WNV-associated neuro-invasive disease.


“To the family and friends feeling the sorrow of losing this person due to WNV, we send you our deepest sympathies,” said Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Health Officer. “West Nile virus can be a serious health threat to people who get infected. People should regularly check for items that can hold water and breed mosquitoes, both inside and outside their homes, and to cover, clean or throw out those items. I encourage everyone to protect themselves from diseases spread by mosquitoes by using EPA-registered mosquito repellent products as directed, and wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.”


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 10 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.


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