LANCASTER – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has reported the first human death due to complications from West Nile Virus in the Antelope Valley for 2015, local authorities announced Tuesday.
“It was middle-aged man from Lancaster,” said Karen Mellor of the Antelope Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District (AVMVCD). “We don’t know where he was exposed to the mosquito bite… it could have been here or somewhere else.”
“He must have died pretty quickly because we didn’t get a report of him being sick; we just got the report of him dying,” Mellor added.
“This death is a tragic reminder of how severe West Nile Virus can be,” stated AVMVCD Manager Cei Kratz. “People need to stay vigilant in protecting themselves and removing potential mosquito breeding sites.”
The middle-aged Lancaster man, who died last week, was the second human case of West Nile Virus reported in the Antelope Valley for 2015. The first human case was reported in late September. That person is still alive; therefore HIPAA laws prevent officials from disclosing any information on the local human case, according to Mellor.
The total number of human cases in Los Angeles County to date is 93 with six fatalities.
“Only one in five people who are infected with WNV will have any symptoms of the disease,” stated AVMVCD Board member Dr. John Manning. “People with a weakened immune system or other medical issues are at a higher risk to become sick or die when they are bitten by an infected mosquito.”
Although the mosquito season in the Antelope Valley is winding down, residents are still urged to remove standing water, especially after the recent rains. Residents should also use insect repellents when outdoors during dusk and dawn, local officials warn.
“Hopefully it gets colder because once the temperature drops under 50 degrees, [West Nile Virus] can’t be transmitted,” Mellor said, adding that the virus dies off in colder temperatures.
The California Department of Public Health, as of Oct. 16, reported West Nile Virus activity in 40 counties in 1,170 dead birds, 2,938 mosquito samples, and 362 sentinel chickens, as well as 366 human cases with 18 fatalities. The Antelope Valley has seen West Nile Virus activity in 24 chickens, two mosquito samples and two human cases with one fatality, according to local authorities. View a map of West Nile Virus-positive chickens and mosquito samples in the Antelope Valley, as of Oct. 19, here.
Tips to avoid mosquito bites, West Nile Virus infection
District officials are urging residents to follow these tips to avoid getting mosquito bites and West Nile Virus infection:
- Check your property for any standing water from sprinklers or thunder showers, and dump or drain all standing water.
- Dress in light-colored long-sleeved clothes during mosquito activity. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn.
- Defend against mosquitoes by use repellents (i.e., DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535).
- Turn on fans to keep mosquitoes away.
- Keep screen doors and windows in good repair and close them.
- Don’t use bug zappers near your patio – they attract more mosquitoes than they kill.
- Get free mosquito-eating fish (Gambusia affinis) for fish ponds, pools and horse troughs.
- Vaccinate your horses properly.
- Report stagnant pools and other backyard sources to the AVMVCD.
- Report dead birds by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.
To stay up-to-date on West Nile Virus activity and mosquito-related information in the Antelope Valley, visit www.avmosquito.org.
For more information, contact the Antelope Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District at 661-942-2917.
Previous related stories: