CARSON (CBSLA.com) — A 78-year-old man died early in the week after being infected with Nile West virus, according to the Daily Breeze.
Albert Shipman died at Little Company of Mary Hospital in San Pedro Tuesday after being hospitalized for two weeks, the report said.
Family members told the newspaper it took doctors a few days to determine he was suffering from West Nile because his symptoms were consistent with a mild stroke.
Before Tuesday, five people had tested positive for West Nile virus in Los Angeles County this year, with no deaths, according to the Department of Public Health.
“West Nile virus is prevalent all throughout Los Angeles County,” Truc Dever with LA County Vector Control told KNX1070′s Vytas Safroinikas. “We’re finding a lot of activity in the valley and in the basin as we do every year. The only unusual thing about the Southbay is that the activity we are finding is occurring a little bit earlier in the year than usual.”
On Wednesday, officials went to 1,500 homes in Carson, Wilmington and Torrance educating people on how to protect themselves.
“West Nile virus is endemic in this area. It will always be here and people need to take the proper precautions,” Dever said.
Vector control officers were asking the public to report areas where water isn’t readily draining because standing water is where mosquitoes breed.
West Nile virus is passed to humans through an infected mosquito bite. The mosquitoes typically obtain the disease by feeding on infected birds, according to authorities.
There were 174 cases in Los Angeles County in 2012, the second highest number of human cases since 2004.
Symptoms, which officials say only about 20 percent of people infected experience, include fever, headaches, nausea, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash.
Less than one in 150 people who are bitten by an infected mosquito become severely sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To avoid getting the disease, health officials recommend residents avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, wear long-sleeve shirts and pants when outdoors, apply insect repellents containing DEET and Picaridin, keep tight-fitting screens on doors and windows and eliminate all sources of standing water around homes and property.
RELATED STORY: 5 In LA County Tested Positive For West Nile Virus