LANCASTER – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recently identified the first human cases of West Nile virus in the Antelope Valley for the 2020 mosquito season. Two cases were reported — one in Lancaster and one in Palmdale, according to the Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.
Both patients are over 50 and both were sick enough to be hospitalized initially; however, one patient is now recovering at home while the other remains hospitalized. Additional information about the patients could not be released due to HIPAA restrictions, authorities said.
Humans get West Nile virus through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most mosquitoes do not carry the virus; therefore, most people bitten by a mosquito are not exposed to WNV. Those who do get WNV may experience mild symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, and tiredness. In some cases, especially in persons over 50 years of age and those with chronic medical conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, severe WNV infection can occur and affect the brain and spinal cord, causing meningitis, encephalitis, paralysis and even death. There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus and no vaccine to prevent infection.
“Although the Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District identifies the presence of West Nile virus every year in some form, this is the time of year when potential human transmission is at the peak,” said District entomologist Karen Mellor.
West Nile virus continues to be a serious health threat to residents in the Antelope Valley, District officials said.
The District urges residents to continue to do their part in mosquito control and protect themselves from mosquito bites by following these recommendations:
- Check property for standing water and get rid of it.
- When mosquitoes are active, use EPA registered insect repellents that contain one of these main ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, IR3535.
- Make sure screens on windows and doors are in good repair to avoid mosquitoes in the home.
- Check around faucets, irrigation systems and air conditioner units, and repair leaks or puddles that remain for several days.
- Report stagnant pools and other backyard sources to the AVMVCD at 661-942-2917.
- Report dead birds by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473).
[Information via news release from the Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.]