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Health Officials Confirm LA County's First West Nile Virus Death

Representative image. (Image: Reuters)

Representative image. (Image: Reuters)

According to a report, public health officials confirmed that the patient was hospitalized and died from a West Nile virus-associated illness that affects the central nervous system.

West Nile Virus struck a resident of South Bay who died from the neuroinvasive illness, marking the first confirmed death this year from the mosquito-borne disease in Los Angeles County.

According to a report published in the Los Angeles Times, public health officials confirmed Wednesday that the patient was hospitalized and died from a West Nile virus-associated illness that affects the central nervous system but did not provide details about the person’s age or when they got sick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. The disease is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Cases occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.

However, there are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people.

While most people infected with WNV do not feel sick, about 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 of the infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.

Notably, Dr. Muntu Davis, the Los Angeles County health officer, said in a statement that the West Nile virus continues to be a serious health threat to residents in Los Angeles County. He added that the health department encourages 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.

He further advised residents to protect them from disease spread by the mosquitoes by using EPA-registered mosquito repellent products, especially during the peak mosquito season.

Notably, this year, California has seen at least 112 confirmed human cases of West Nile, including three other deaths in Amador, Fresno and Imperial counties. There have been nine documented cases in LA County. However, these exclude Long Beach and Pasadena, where cases are identified by local health departments.