Elderly Man First to Die of West Nile Virus in Long Beach This Year

An elderly man has become first confirmed person to die from the West Nile Virus in Long Beach this year, city health officials announced Wednesday.

The man died of his illness after a long hospitalization, according to City Health Officer Dr. Mitchell Kushner.

“This is a sad reminder of how severe West Nile Virus can be,” Dr. Kushner said. “We strongly encourage residents to protect themselves and family members from mosquitoes.”

According to Kushner, the number of cases this year so far are dramatically lower compared to September 2014, which saw 28 confirmed cases of the West Nile Virus and two deaths.

Four cases have been reported in Long Beach to date in 2015, health officials said.

As of Friday, October 2, there have been four additional WNV-related deaths this year, countywide.

Statewide, 245 cases have been reported, including 12 deaths, officials stated.

Health officials encourage residents to protect themselves by taking the following precautions:

  • 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 draining water in neglected ponds, birdbaths, fountains, buckets, old tires or anything that can hold water.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants if you plan to be outdoors at dawn or dusk.
  • Use mosquito repellent 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 two years.
  • 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 chlorinate swimming pools and drain water from pool covers.
  • Limit the watering of lawns and outdoor plants to Tuesdays and Saturdays, and 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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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. Growing up as one of six kids in the working-class immigrant suburb of South Gate, she was taught the importance of civic engagement and to show compassion for others. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015. An avid Harry Potter fan, Stephanie now lives in Bixby Knolls with her boyfriend and their bearded dragon, Austin.