The day-biting Aedes aegypti mosquito prefers to feed human hosts. Photo by James Gathany/CDC.

Health officials Wednesday announced the first death this year in Long Beach due to complications associated with West Nile virus.

“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,” said Dr. Anissa Davis, Health Officer for the city of Long Beach. “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.”

No further details were released about the death, but the city’s health office did remind the public that those aged 50 or older and people with diabetes, high blood pressure or other underlying medical conditions have the greatest risk of developing serious complications. The Long Beach Health and Human Services Department is reaching out specifically to this population with targeted outreach efforts, officials said.

More information can be found at (562) 570-4132, www.longbeach.gov/health/wnv_info or www.facebook.com/LBDHHS.

As of Sept. 1, three human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Long Beach. The same number of cases were reported in 2016, with no reported deaths.

Last week, a Los Angeles County resident was reported among three people confirmed as the state’s first deaths this year due to West Nile virus.

The other two deaths were residents of Kern and San Bernardino counties.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the local patient lived in the San Fernando Valley, was hospitalized in early August and died from West Nile-associated “neuro-invasive disease.”

Statewide, 87 human cases have been reported to date from 34 counties this year, a decrease from 123 human cases reported at the same time last year. Twelve cases have been reported in Los Angeles County and two in Orange County, according to the state.

Symptoms of the virus — which is transmitted by mosquito bites — can include fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headaches, but many people who are infected may not show any symptoms. About one in 150 people could develop more serious problems, such as brain inflammation or paralysis, health officials said.

Mosquito season in Southern California generally spans the months of May to October. To reduce exposure to WNV, residents are urged to:

— eliminate standing water that can attract mosquitoes;

— spend as little time as possible outdoors at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are generally on the move;

— wear pants and long-sleeved shirts during outdoor activity;

— use insect repellent; and

— ensure door and window screens are fitted properly to keep bugs out.

–City News Service

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