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West Nile virus confirmed in Los Angeles county for first time in 2019, health officials say

FOX News logo FOX News 8/6/2019 Madeline Farber

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Two residents in Los Angeles County have been infected with the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, marking the county’s first confirmed cases of the 2019 season, local health officials said Monday.

The residents — who were not identified by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health — are from the San Fernando Valley region and the southeastern region of Los Angeles County, respectively, per officials. They were both infected in late July and are still recovering.

“We are glad to hear that these two people are recovering from their West Nile Fever infections and wish them well. 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,” Muntu Davis, a Los Angeles County 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,” Davis added.

a insect on the ground © Provided by Fox News Network LLC First reported in the U.S. in 1999, West Nile is a virus that’s typically spread by infected mosquitoes. Though the side effects of the virus can be severe, most people who are infected experience little to no symptoms and fully recover.

That said, a small percentage of people — roughly 1 in 5 — develop a fever and may additionally experience headaches, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash, among other signs of the virus, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Even rarer, about 1 in 150 people who are infected with West Nile virus can develop a serious illness  — such as inflammation of the spinal cord or brain — the CDC added.

There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment to treat or prevent the virus.

In Los Angeles County, specifically, an estimated 10,000 people are infected with West Nile virus — though not all cases are “reported or recognized as West Nile virus” as not everyone infected show signs of illness, the county health department said.

Last year, 11 people in California died of the virus, per the Los Angeles Times. 

West Nile virus can be avoided by emptying birdbaths and wading pools, as standing water can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Using certain mosquitoes repellents, as well as wearing long-sleeved pants and shirts while outside, are also ways to prevent mosquito bites. On its website, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health provides further guidelines for those seeking information on preventative measures.

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