Dr. Mitchell Kushner, Public Health Officer for the City of Long Beach, today announced the first death this year due to complications associated with West Nile Virus (WNV). The resident, who was in his mid-70s and lived in east Long Beach, was hospitalized in August.
In 2014 to date, nine human cases have been reported to the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services; seven cases were reported in all of 2013. One death was reported in Long Beach in 2013; prior to that the most recent death occurred in 2004. In the State of California, 181 human cases have been reported so far this year, a significant increase from 101 human cases reported at this same time last year.
"The death of a Long Beach resident due to West Nile Virus is a sad and sobering reminder of the risk posed by mosquito bites," Dr. Kushner said. “We need to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and minimize risk of WNV infection especially at this time of the year when the risk of infection is at its highest.”
West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. For most people, the risk of serious illness is low. However, some individuals – less than 1 percent – can develop a serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis. People 50 years of age or older and people with diabetes, high blood pressure and/or other underlying medical conditions have the greatest risk of developing serious complications. The Long Beach Health Department is reaching out specifically to this population with targeted outreach efforts to prevent West Nile disease.
To reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile Virus, Dr. Kushner is advising residents to take the following precautions:
Avoid mosquito-infested areas especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
Mosquitoes can breed in standing water. Eliminate standing water on your property by dumping or draining water in neglected ponds, birdbaths, fountains, buckets, old tires or anything that can hold water. Dumping or draining water will interrupt the mosquito life cycle.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants if you plan to be outdoors at dawn or dusk.
Use mosquito repellant containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Residents should follow instructions on the label. Consult with your child's pediatrician for appropriate concentrations of DEET to be used on children under the age of 2.
Keep tight-fitting screens on doors and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering homes and check to make sure your window screens are in good condition.
Clean and maintain swimming pools and drain water from pool covers.
Limit the watering of lawns and outdoor plants to twice a week to avoid run off to gutters and around sprinklers.
Report dead birds and dead tree squirrels to the California Department of Health Services by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.
The Long Beach Health Department continues active surveillance for mosquito populations and works to control mosquito populations in known public breeding locations such as the ponds, wetlands and flood channels. Residents can do their part by eliminating standing water in and around their property and reporting breeding sources to the Health Department at the number below.
For further information, contact the City of Long Beach DHHS, Vector Control Program at 562.570.4132, at www.longbeach.gov/health/wnv_info or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LBDHHS.
Further information about the WNV may be obtained at the State of California Department of Health Services website at www.westnile.ca.gov
, or at the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile