First Death Due to West Nile Virus Reported in Long Beach

A man in his mid-70s is the first confirmed person to die from West Nile Virus this year in Long Beach, city officials said.

The man, who lived in East Long Beach, was hospitalized in August due to complications associated with the virus, said Dr. Mitchell Kushner, Public Health Officer for the City of Long Beach.

There have been nine human cases of West Nile Virus reported to the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services so far this year, Kuschner said. There were seven cases and one death last year in Long Beach due to the virus.

“The death of a Long Beach resident due to West Nile Virus is a sad and sobering reminder of the risk posed by mosquito bites,” Dr. Kushner said in a statement. “We need to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and minimize risk of WNV infection especially at this time of the year when the risk of infection is at its highest.”   

Additionally, the Washoe District Health Department in Nevada issued a press release Wednesday warning that attendees at the Burning Man festival should be tested for West Nile because mosquitoes in nine traps in the area tested positive for the virus.

Kuschner recommended the following tips to take precaution against the virus:

  • Avoid mosquito-infested areas especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Mosquitoes can 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 will interrupt 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.  Residents should follow instructions on the label.  Consult with your child’s pediatrician for appropriate concentrations of DEET to be used on children under the age of 2.
  • Keep tight-fitting screens on doors and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering homes and check to make sure your window screens are in good condition.
  • Clean and maintain swimming pools and drain water from pool covers.
  • Limit the watering of lawns and outdoor plants to twice a week to avoid run off to gutters and around sprinklers.
  • Report dead birds and dead tree squirrels to the California Department of Health Services by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.

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