According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health five cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) infection have been reported in Los Angeles County and they are the first reports of the season.
Of those infected, two were hospitalized but are reported as recovering. The other three were healthy blood donors who remain asymptomatic at this time.
What is WNV?
West Nile Virus is an infection that is spread to humans through the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. However, it is important to remember that not all mosquitos carry WNV. In many parts of the United States, the possibility of being bitten by an infected mosquito is highest during the months of July to early September. Although, there are some parts of the country where mosquito bites can be a hazard all year long.
Prevalence in Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County Public Health documented 174 reported cases of WNV in 2012. Of that total four percent of those cases resulted in fatalities, while 85% of those infected required hospitalization.
Since July 19, 2013, WNV has been noted in mosquito pools and dead birds in a variety of L.A. County areas. Of the dead birds, 75% of them have been seen in the South Bay area.
To report findings of dead birds in L.A. County call (877) 968-2473 or log onto the L.A. County Veterinary Public Health site. Also, stagnant swimming pools or “green pools” should be reported to the Public Health Environmental Health Bureau at (626) 430-5200.
Symptoms of WNV infection in humans
Most people infected with WNV will not experience any symptoms. However there are exceptions and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms like headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. Less than one percent of infected people develop serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.”
Treatment for WNV
At this time there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for WNV. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to treat fevers, body aches and other associated symptoms. For severe cases, hospitalization may be required to obtain additional supportive treatments.
How can you minimize your risk of being infected with WNV?
- Mosquitos are more prevalent at dawn and dusks. Avoid mosquito-infested areas during those times.
- Whenever you are outdoors wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks. Also remember to keep your colors light. Mosquitos are more drawn to people in darker colored clothing.
- Eliminate standing water.
- Use repellants containing DEET, picaridn, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus as they provide longer protection.
- Repair screens and doors to prevent mosquitos from getting inside your home.
- Add fluorescent lighting outside. Mosquitoes are attracted to incandescent lighting.
To learn more about WNV or to report a potential mosquito breeding issue please visit the County of Los Angeles Public Health website.