Four More Human West Nile Virus Cases Identified in L.A. County, None in LB As Of July 28; Statewide Total MountsReturn To Front Page
(July 29, 2004) -- The Los Angeles County Dept. of Health Services reports four new cases of the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus (WNV) in L.A. County...while LB's Dept. of Health and Human Services reports none identified in LB as of July 28.
The new cases bring the number of human WNV cases within the jurisdiction of L.A. County's Health Dept. to 12 people. Recall: LB is one of the few CA cities with an independent health department (along with Pasadena, Vernon & Berkeley). LB's Health Dept. has reported no human cases as of July 28, said Dr. Darryl Sexton, MD, LB's Health Officer.
Of the four new cases within the L.A. County Health Dept. jurisdiction, six were WNV neuroinvasive disease (encephalitis or meningitis) and six were West Nile fever, said L.A. County's Deputy Chief of Acute Communicable Disease Control, Dr. David Dassey. "All but one have been in the eastern poart of the County; this week we had the first reported case in San Fernando Valley," Dr. Dassey told LBReport.com.
Statewide as of July 28 at 5:00 p.m., the CA Dept. of Health Services (CA DHS) reported 52 WNV infections, identified in San Bernardino (28), Los Angeles (12), Riverside (8), Orange (1), Imperial (1), Kern (1) and Fresno (1) Counties.
"Two of these WNV infections were initially detected in asymptomatic individuals through screening done at blood banks -- one of these individuals later become symptomatic. Of the fifty-one WNV cases with symptoms, 23 are classified as West Nile fever cases, 23 are classified as West Nile neuroinvasive disease, and 5 are of unknown status," said the CA DHS WNV web site.
West Nile Virus (WNV) has already claimed the life of a 57-year old OC man, making him the first Californian to die from the mosquito-borne virus.
In a section titled "What you need to know," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention web site (as of July 29/04, direct link below) states in pertinent part:
What Are the Symptoms of WNV?
WNV affects the central nervous system. Symptoms vary.
- Serious Symptoms in a Few People. About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
- Milder Symptoms in Some People. Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected will display symptoms which can include fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have been sick for several weeks.
- No Symptoms in Most People. Approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
How Does West Nile Virus Spread?
- Infected Mosquitoes. Most often, WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes are WNV carriers that become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite.
- Transfusions, Transplants, and Mother-to-Child. In a very small number of cases, WNV also has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding and even during pregnancy from mother to baby.
- Not through touching. WNV is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus.
How Soon Do Infected People Get Sick?
People typically develop symptoms between 3 and 14 days after they are bitten by the infected mosquito.
How Is WNV Infection Treated?
There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience symptoms such as fever and aches that pass on their own. In more severe cases, people usually need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have WNV?
Milder WNV illness improves on its own, and people do not necessarily need to seek medical attention for this infection though they may choose to do so. If you develop symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately. Severe WNV illness usually requires hospitalization. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to talk to their doctor if they develop symptoms that could be WNV.
What Is the Risk of Getting Sick from WNV?
People over 50 at higher risk to get sick. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms of WNV if they do get sick and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites.
Being outside means you're at risk. The more time you're outdoors, the more time you could be bitten by an infected mosquito. Pay attention to avoiding mosquito bites if you spend a lot of time outside, either working or playing.
Risk through medical procedures is very low. All donated blood is checked for WNV before being used. The risk of getting WNV through blood transfusions and organ transplants is very small, and should not prevent people who need surgery from having it. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor.
Pregnancy and nursing do not increase risk of becoming infected with WNV. The risk that WNV may present to a fetus or an infant infected through breastmilk is still being evaluated. Talk with your care provider is you have concerns.
What Can I Do to Prevent WNV?
The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.
- When you are outdoors, use insect repellents containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). Follow the directions on the package.
- Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours. Light-colored clothing can help you see mosquitoes that land on you.
- Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
- Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren't being used.
The CDC's main West Nile Virus web pages can be accessed at CDC WNV web pages.
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