By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Los Angeles County health officials report the first death due to West Nile virus (WNV) for the 2019 season.

Image/CDC

The patient, a resident of the South Bay 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 9 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).

Statewide, California has reported 112 WNV cases to date and nationally, 627 cases of West Nile virus disease, including 30 deaths in people have been reported to CDC.