Los Angeles County recorded its first death of the year caused by West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne infection, officials announced on Wednesday, reminding all local residents to take precautions against mosquitoes.
The patient, described only as an "elderly resident" living in the South Los Angeles area, was hospitalized and died from West Nile virus-associated neuroinvasive disease, said a statement issued by the county's health department.
"West Nile virus continues to be a serious health threat to residents in Los Angeles County," county Health Officer Muntu Davis said in the statement. "We encourage residents to check for items that can hold water and breed mosquitoes, both inside and outside their homes, and to cover, clean or clear out those items."
West Nile virus, a single-stranded RNA virus that causes West Nile fever, is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes. Humans get the virus through the bite of an infected mosquito, although most mosquitoes do not carry the virus.
There is no specific treatment for the disease and no vaccine to prevent infection, according to the public health department. It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 infections of the disease countywide every year. However, most people's symptoms would be too mild to be recognized.
A total of five cases have been documented in Los Angels county so far this year. Its neighboring Orange County announced Monday that a child recovered from West Nile virus, becoming the county's first confirmed human case this year.