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UPDATE: Health officials urge caution on West Nile virus in Los Angeles County

Posted: July 25, 2013 1:18 p.m.
Updated: July 26, 2013 9:18 a.m.

With summer in full swing and Santa Clarita Valley residents spending more time outside, health officials are warning residents to take steps to avoid exposure to West Nile virus, a potentially fatal infection.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Thursday that there have been five confirmed West Nile virus infections in Los Angeles County this year.

But it takes only simple actions to reduce the risk of infection, they say.

“Unfortunately, there is no treatment for West Nile infection, and at present there is no vaccine to prevent this infection,” said Santa Clarita practitioner Dr. Michael Pin in a news release.

“But there are many inexpensive things you can do to make sure your family has a reduced risk of this infection.”

These steps include wearing mosquito repellent, making sure screens for windows and doors are in good repair and clearing any standing water that could attract mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes are like vampires — they bite when the sun goes down,” Pin said. “So apply your repellent if you are outside one hour before dusk and one hour after dawn.”

West Nile virus is carried by birds and typically spread to humans by mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds.

More than 430 people have been infected with West Nile virus in Los Angeles County since 2008, according to the Department of Public Health.

The 174 confirmed infections in 2012 were the second most in a year since 2004, according to the Department of Public Health.

Six people died after being infected with the virus last year, according to statistics.

Most people bitten by infected mosquitoes do not become ill, according to Pin, but those who do can experience symptoms including nausea, fever, headaches and muscle weakness.

In severe cases, the viral infection can also lead to neurological symptoms such as tremors and limb paralysis.




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