West Nile Virus Risk Higher Than Ever
Southern Californians more likely to get West Nile than in other areas of state.
Vector control experts issued a multi-agency advisory Tuesday, warning residents to be vigilant against West Nile Virus, which has already affected 12 people in Los Angeles County. Of the 38 cases of West Nile statewide, 30 patients were Southern California residents.
The median age of individuals affected is 56 years. No cases have resulted in fatalities.
Along with the 30 human cases of West Nile Virus in Southern California, 566 dead birds and 316 mosquito samples were confirmed to have the virus, raising the risk of human infection higher than it was during the 2004 epidemic.
Of the 12 patients in Los Angeles, nine cases involved the patient’s nervous system and inflammation of the brain, or the membrane around the brain and spinal cord, while three patients experienced a series of fever, headache, tiredness, aching and rash.
According to the California Department of Public Health, which coordinates West Nile Virus prevention efforts statewide, most infected individuals will not experience any illness. Individuals 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop serious symptoms when infected. Recent data also indicates that those with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness.
Prevention is the key and the CDPH has a few easy-to-remember suggestions:
- DEET - Apply inspect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
- DRESS - Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
- DAWN AND DUSK - Mosquitoes that carry WNV bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear repellent at this time. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
- DRAIN - Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. If you have a pond, use mosquito fish or commercially available products to eliminate mosquito larvae.
California's WNV Web site - http://www.westnile.ca.gov - includes the latest information on WNV activity in the state. In order to help identify WNV activity, Californians are encouraged to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels on the Web site or by calling toll-free 1-877-WNV-BIRD (968-2473).