Health Officials Warn of West Nile and Zika Carrying Mosquitoes

June 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles County health officials last week confirmed the county’s first human case of West Nile virus for the 2017 season, a revelation followed up on Monday by Long Beach city health officials who announced mosquitoes that can transmit Zika, dengue and other virus have been detected in their city.

Both public health agencies are urging residents to take extra precautions against mosquito bites, noting that mosquito season is at its peak in Southern California between May and October.

The Zika carrying mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, which have also been found in other areas of Southern California, were detected in North Long Beach in the jurisdiction of the Compton Creek Mosquito Abatement District. Authorities are working to determine the extent of the infestation and prevent their spread. A variety of mosquito traps have been deployed in the area.

“We are actively informing and encouraging residents and visitors to take necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.

Aedes aegypti is a roughly quarter-inch large, black-and-white insect that is notably aggressive and is known to bite during the daytime.

The patient known to have contracted the West Nile virus was described only as an “elderly” San Gabriel Valley resident who was hospitalized in late March and has since recovered.

According to the state’s West Nile virus-tracking website, only one other human case of West Nile virus has been reported this season in California, in Kings County.

“West Nile is a serious illness spread by mosquitoes in Los Angeles County,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county’s interim health officer.

“Take precautions against mosquito bites such as using a repellant containing DEET when outdoors, especially around dawn or dusk.

“There is currently no vaccine or treatment for West Nile virus,” he said. “Elderly persons and other people with weak immune systems are at highest risk of developing severe illness.”

Symptoms can include fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headaches, but many people who are infected may not show any symptoms. About one in 150 people could develop more serious problems, such as brain inflammation or paralysis, health officials said. Zika is especially dangerous to pregnant women, whose Zika virus infection (Zika) during pregnancy can cause damage to the brain, microcephaly, and congenital Zika syndrome, a pattern of conditions in the baby that includes brain abnormalities, eye defects, hearing loss, and limb defects, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

To reduce exposure to West Nile, Zika and other viruses, residents are urged to:

— eliminate standing water that can attract mosquitoes;

— spend as little time as possible outdoors at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are generally on the move;

— wear pants and long-sleeved shirts during outdoor activity;

— use insect repellent; and

— ensure door and window screens are fitted properly to keep bugs out.

In 2016, Los Angeles County health officials reported 153 human cases and five deaths from West Nile virus. Those statistics do not include the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own public health agencies.

 

County Issues Zika Warning

February 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

County health officials again warned residents Wednesday to take precautions against mosquito bites, particularly if they’re planning to travel to areas experiencing outbreaks of the Zika virus.

They particularly warned pregnant women to avoid traveling altogether to affected areas, including Latin America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, since the virus can case birth defects.

“The most important messages concern people who may be traveling to locations in the world were Zika virus outbreaks are currently occurring, and advising them on measures they need to take to protect their own health and prevent bringing the disease back here to Los Angeles County,” the county’s interim health officer, Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser said.

There has only been one confirmed case of the virus in Los Angeles County — in an adolescent girl who traveled to El Salvador in late November. Health officials said she has recovered.

Authorities are checking about 20 other potential cases of the virus, but none have been confirmed.

The only known case of transmission of the virus in the United States was confirmed this week in Texas, and it was done through sexual contact.

“The issue of sexual transmission is relatively small in terms of disease control,” Gunzenhauser said. “However, I know people are going to be very concerned about that. So if an individual does travel and they think may have been exposed and they might have symptoms that they think could be Zika, I think it’s a prudent decision they could consider whether or not they want to wear a condom or some other type of barrier to prevent transmitting.”

The primary method of transmitting the disease is via the Aedes mosquito, infestations of which have been found in the San Gabriel Valley and eastern parts of the county. Although transmission of the virus is unlikely, health officials said they still want everyone to take proactive steps to eliminate mosquitoes and protect against bites.

“Homeowners, residents and business owners must take responsibility for mosquito breeding conditions on their own property and their own yards,” said Truc Dever, general manager of the Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

“This is the only way we’ll be able to combat and defeat these invasive species of mosquitoes.”

Health officials advised travelers to use bug spray approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants or clothing specially treated to avoid mosquito bites.

The disease has been linked to miscarriages and microcephaly — which can cause serious developmental delays and babies born with abnormally small heads — though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website notes that additional studies of such reports, initially out of Brazil, are needed.

For those who are not pregnant, about one in five will get sick, according to the CDC. Symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, typically begin two to seven days after being bitten. Some people experience no symptoms.

People can reduce the spread of the Aedes mosquito — and the risk of other mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya and dengue — by eliminating standing water around their homes where mosquitos may breed.

Updates of affected countries and traveler health notices are posted on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov and more information on the virus can be found at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov.

Health Officials Warn Travelers, Pregnant Women of Zika Danger

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

County health officials Tuesday urged travelers to Latin America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, especially pregnant women, to take precautions to protect themselves from contracting a mosquito-borne virus that can cause birth defects.

The Zika virus outbreak is ongoing in 21 countries, including Mexico and Puerto Rico.

No transmission of the disease has been reported in the United States. However, there has been one confirmed case of the virus in Los Angeles County — in an adolescent girl who traveled to El Salvador in late November. Health officials said she has recovered.

The species of mosquito that can transmit Zika is present in the San Gabriel Valley and the eastern part of the county.

“At this time, local transmission is unlikely,” according to a Los Angeles County Department of Public Health statement issued Tuesday. “It would require an Aedes mosquito biting a Zika infected person and then biting others.”

Local health officials said they are continuing “surveillance to identify any potentially infected travelers returning to the county.”

The county’s top health official advised travelers to use bug spray approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants or clothing specially treated to avoid mosquito bites.

“Pregnant women should avoid travel to the areas where the outbreak is ongoing, if possible,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county’s interim health officer.

The disease has been linked to miscarriages and microcephaly — which can cause serious developmental delays and babies born with abnormally small heads — though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website notes that additional studies of such reports, initially out of Brazil, are needed.

As of Jan. 22, Zika-affected countries included Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

“Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, including the U.S., it is anticipated that outbreaks will spread to new countries,” the DPH statement says.

For those who are not pregnant, about one in five will get sick, according to the CDC. Symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, typically begin two to seven days after being bitten. Some people experience no symptoms.

People can reduce the spread of the Aedes mosquito — and the risk of other mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya and dengue — by eliminating standing water around their homes where mosquitos may breed.

Updates of affected countries and traveler health notices are posted on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov and more information on the virus can be found at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov.

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