First a plague-infected squirrel that was found in the Angeles National Forest and now the West Nile Virus! What's next, Armageddon?!
The Department of Public Health has confirmed today five human infections of the West Nile Virus in Los Angeles County, the first such cases of 2013.
"We are entering the period of increased transmission of this virus that can cause serious disease," says L.A. County Public Health Director Jonathan E. Fielding.
In July, two adults were hospitalized due to West Nile Virus and three "healthy" adult blood donors were found to be infected, says the county. They have continued to be healthy since their donation.
The county makes the point that donated blood is routinely screened for the virus to ensure safety of the blood supply, and notes that the infected persons live in the South Bay, the San Fernando Valley, and the San Gabriel Valley.
The West Nile Virus, says the county, "is spread from humans through the bite of an infected mosquito; mosquitoes can become infected by biting a bird that carries the virus."
The county adds, "Most mosquitoes do not carry the virus and most people bitten by a mosquito are not exposed to the virus. The virus is not spread through person-to-person contact, or directly from birds to humans."
In most cases, the county says, "people who are infected with West Nile Virus never become sick, or have only very mild symptoms that include fever, headache, nausea, body aches, and a mild skin rash. Symptoms of the virus could appear within three to 12 days after infection."
In a press statement, the county rolls out some interesting facts:
- In 2012, 174 human cases of West Nile Virus were reported in Los Angeles County, the second highest count documented since 2004.
- Of those who showed symptoms, 85 percent required hospitalization and 4 percent were fatal.
- As of July 19, 2013, the virus has been detected in 89 mosquito pools and 93 dead birds in L.A. County.
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- Seventy-five percent of dead birds and nearly one third of mosquitoes were found in the South Bay, but West Nile Virus activity has been found in other areas across the county.
As precautionary measures, Public Health's Jonathan Fielding recommends getting rid of pools of stagnant water around one's home (that's just good housekeeping) and wearing insect repellant. That also goes for campers in the Angeles National Forest who want to avoid the plague.
If there's any one health trend that's shaping up this summer in L.A., it's to wear more insect repellant -- has anyone come up with a cologne and/or perfume with DEET in it? Now that would be chic.