The recent death of an elderly person in Northern California due to the West Nile Virus has prompted Long Beach’s top health official to encourage residents to take precautions.
The state Department of Public Health announced Friday the first West Nile Virus-related death for 2016 in the state involved a senior citizen in Sacramento County.
In light of the news, Long Beach Interim Health Officer Dr. Mauro Torno issued a release this afternoon reminding residents to protect themselves from mosquitoes during the last months of summer.
“The first death of a California resident due to West Nile virus is a sad and sobering reminder of the risk posed by mosquito bites,” said Dr. Torno. “I would like to take this time to remind Long Beach residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and minimize risk of infection, especially at this time of the year when the risk of infection is at its highest.”
Officials stated that although the city has not had any documented WNV activity this year, the counties of Orange and Los Angeles have documented positive activity in birds and mosquitos.
The West Nile Virus is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, with signs and symptoms including fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headache. Most infected people do not show symptoms and only about one in 150 people may develop more serious disease, such as brain inflammation or paralysis, a release stated.
The Health Department is recommending residents protect against mosquito bites and West Nile Virus by taking a few simple precautions:
- Avoid mosquito-infested areas, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Eliminate standing water on your property by dumping or draining water in neglected ponds, birdbaths, fountains, buckets, old tires or anything that can hold water. Dumping or draining water interrupts the mosquito life cycle.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants if you plan to be outdoors at dawn or dusk.
- Use mosquito repellant containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, and follow instructions on the label. Consult a pediatrician for appropriate concentrations of DEET to be used on children under the age of two.
- Keep tight-fitting screens on doors and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering homes, and check to make sure window screens are in good condition.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, and drain water from pool covers.
- Limit the watering of lawns and outdoor plants, to avoid run off to gutters and around sprinklers.
Report dead birds and dead tree squirrels to the California Department of Public Health by calling 1.877.WNV-Bird (1.877.968.2473) or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.
For further information, contact the City of Long Beach Health Department, Vector Control Program, at 562.570.4132 or online at www.longbeach.gov/health and click on “West Nile Virus.” Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lbdhhs.
Additional information about WNV may also be obtained at www.westnile.ca.gov, or at the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile.