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Protect Yourself and Your Community: Understanding and Combating West Nile Virus

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The Los Angeles County reports its first death from the West Nile Virus (WNV) this year, urging the community to increase preventative measures against mosquito bites. With 19 confirmed WNV cases in 2023, residents are advised to use EPA-registered mosquito repellents, mosquito-proof their homes, and eliminate standing water to curb the breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

In Los Angeles County, the battle against the West Nile Virus (WNV) is ongoing as the first death of the 2023 season has been confirmed. The individual, who resided in the San Fernando Valley, suffered from a brain illness associated with the virus and sadly passed away. This tragedy marks the 19th confirmed case in the county, excluding statistics from Long Beach and Pasadena. As the health community mourns this loss, Los Angeles County Health Officer, Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, underscores the imperative nature of individual and communal preventive measures. “Using mosquito repellent and keeping mosquitoes out of our homes can help prevent West Nile virus. Let’s all work together to keep our homes and neighborhoods mosquito-free for everyone’s safety,” said Davis.

Though most mosquitoes are not carriers of the virus, the ones that are pose a serious health risk, potentially leading to severe infections, especially in individuals over the age of 50 and those with existing chronic medical conditions. Infections can escalate, causing meningitis, encephalitis, and paralysis; currently, there is neither a specific treatment nor a vaccine to prevent WNV infection. Consequently, the public is urged to adopt preventative strategies including the use of repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, 2-undecanone, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Other advised strategies encompass mosquito-proofing homes and eliminating sources of standing water, which serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

With September being a peak month for WNV infections, vigilance should be heightened. Residents are urged to report persistent problems to their mosquito control district and to remain informed through reliable resources such as the Los Angeles County Public Health website and the California West Nile virus website. This collective effort in awareness and prevention is the stronghold against the spread of the West Nile Virus, safeguarding communities one step at a time. Let’s unite in fostering environments where safety and health are paramount.

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