Long Beach reported no cases of West Nile virus in 2018, but invasive mosquito species is on the rise

For the first time in nearly a decade, Long Beach reported no cases of West Nile virus in 2018, health officials said Thursday.

The city has documented human cases of the virus almost every year since it was first reported in 2004. In 2017, Long Beach saw 15 human cases, down from 53 in 2016.

The disease is transmitted from a bite from an infected Culex mosquito and can cause fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headache. While most people show no symptoms, about one in 150 may develop a more serious disease, such as brain inflammation or paralysis.

City officials attributed the zero cases last year to ramped mosquito control and greater public outreach.

“It is extremely rare to see zero cases of West Nile virus in a city,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “This was without a doubt the result of city staff and our community working together to protect and fight against mosquito-borne diseases and infestation.”

While the city has seen a decrease in West Nile, last year it reported record numbers of a new and possibly more deadly mosquito species that can carry other diseases.

An invasive mosquito species called the Aedes is spreading throughout Southern California and was first detected in the northwest corner of Long Beach in 2017. By last summer, it had spread through all of the city’s ZIP codes.

While the Culex can only carry West Nile virus, the Aedes can transmit Dengue fever, Zika and yellow fever.

Health officials have vowed to continue ramping up mosquito control as warmer weather approaches.

For more information on how to protect from mosquito bites, the community can visit www.longbeach.gov/mosquitoes, or call the Mosquito Hotline at 562-570-7907.

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].