(CNS) – A second Los Angeles County resident died due to West Nile virus, health officials announced Tuesday, prompting heightened warnings for people to take precautions against mosquito bites.
Both victims were adults in their 80s who lived in the southeastern part of the county, according to the Department of Public Health.
Health officials noted that people over 50 years old and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk for developing severe symptoms, which may require hospitalization.
“While most people bitten by a mosquito are not exposed to West Nile virus, some individuals may become infected with this disease and may experience symptoms that can last for months, or even years, such as fatigue, malaise and depression,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s top health official. Symptoms can appear within three to 12 days after infection and severe symptoms of meningitis and encephalitis can lead to hospitalization.
To date, 54 human cases of West Nile virus illness have been reported in the county, and vector control districts have detected the virus in 170 dead birds, five squirrels and 196 mosquito pools. Samples were found throughout the county, Fielding said. The Lincoln Heights neighborhood is one of the latest areas where West Nile positive mosquitoes have been found.
Areas with high mosquito areas are being actively treated, but Fielding urged residents to report dead birds by calling (877) 968-2473 or at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov and stagnant pools to (626) 430-5200.