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Orange County reports its first death in 2020 from the West Nile virus

The first human death from the West Nile virus in Orange County this year was reported on Wednesday.

An elderly man from Garden Grove died of complications related to West Nile sometime this week, according to the OC Health Agency.

So far in 2020, five symptomatic patients have been reported in the county, two of whom had neuroinvasive disease in the West Nile and three had virus-related fever. Of these cases, four people were hospitalized.

In August, a child in Orange County was diagnosed with West Nile virus, the first confirmed case of mosquito infestation in the county this year.

As early as June, the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District said that some areas of the region were experiencing an increase in mosquito activity for six consecutive weeks. At that time, the number of mosquitoes in 2020 was already nearly five times higher than the previous year and doubled the five-year average for the county.

Neighboring Los Angeles County announced its first human death from the virus a month ago after an elderly resident of the South Los Angeles area died of a neuroinvasive disease.

Bloodthirsty insects can transmit the virus to humans through bites. While most infected people will not get any symptoms, about 20% will develop fever and other side effects, including headaches, body aches, nausea, fatigue, and sometimes a skin rash.

Anyone who develops more severe symptoms of a neuroinvasive disease in the West Nile, such as severe headache, neck stiffness, confusion, muscle weakness, or vision loss, should seek medical attention immediately. People over the age of 50 and those with major illnesses are at increased risk of serious complications.

Recommended precautions include emptying all standing water in your property to reduce areas where mosquitoes can breed, including flower pots and pet bowls; make sure your window and door screens are in good condition; use of an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridine, lemon eucalyptus oil or products containing IR3535; limiting outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active; and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

Mosquito control information is available on the Orange County mosquito website and mosquito control vector at ocvector.org.

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