OC Reports First West Nile Virus Death of the Year

California Health Officials Warn Of Increase West Nile Activity This Season As Drought And Heat Could Spread Disease

SANTA ANA (CNS) - A Garden Grove man succumbed to West Nile virus, the first fatality related to the virus so far this year in Orange County, the Health Care Agency reported today.

The agency described the victim as “elderly,'' but did not release his age or when he died of WNV “infection complications.''

The county has had five symptomatic WNV infections reported this year, according to the HCA, which said two had “WNV neuroinvasive disease and three had WNV fever,'' with four requiring hospitalization.

“Because about 80% of people infected with WNV have no symptoms, and the majority of cases of West Nile fever do not seek medical care and are not tested, the reported case counts greatly underestimate the number of infected people in Orange County,'' according to the HCA.

The first WNV death in Los Angeles County was confirmed by health officials on Aug. 12. The patient was described as an “elderly resident'' of the South Los Angeles area who was hospitalized and died from WNV neuroinvasive disease.

Common symptoms of WNV include fever, headache, body aches and fatigue. West Nile neuroinvasive disease symptoms include severe headaches, neck stiffness, confusion, muscle weakness and vision loss.

Anyone 50 or older and those with underlying medical issues face an increased risk of complications from WNV infection.

Agency officials encouraged residents to do what they can to stem the spread of the virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, by dumping out standing water, which is a fertile breeding ground for the pests. Screens and windows should be checked to see if they are secure and can keep bugs out, and residents should use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.

Photo: Getty Images

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