St. Louis Encephalitis Virus Found in Los Angeles County Mosquitoes

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A batch of mosquitoes trapped in Playa Vista tested positive for the St. Louis Encephalitis virus, which is similar to West Nile virus, vector control officials said today. 

The mosquitoes are the first found to be carrying SLEV in Los Angeles County this year. There has not been a human case of the virus in Los Angeles County since 1997. Mosquitoes carrying the virus have been found in the county each of the past two years. 

Like West Nile, SLEV is transmitted to people through bites from infected mosquitoes. Also like West Nile, most people who contract the virus do not show any symptoms. Others will develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache and body aches. 

In the most severe cases, SLEV and West Nile virus can affect the central nervous system and lead to meningitis or encephalitis, potentially causing death or long-term disabilities. People over age 50 years and people with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of experiencing severe symptoms. 

Vector-control officials recommended that people take precautions against both viruses by using mosquito repellents, ensuring window and door screens at homes are secure, draining standing water and maintaining pool and spa water.

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