LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Three deaths due to West Nile Virus were confirmed in the past week, bringing the total in Los Angeles County to seven, according to health officials.

The three latest victims were men with pre-existing health conditions, according to the county. One man was a San Fernando Valley resident, and the other two were from South Los Angeles.

“We continue to see increased transmission of this virus that can cause serious disease,” according to Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s public health officer. “Taking a few simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of mosquito bites, the primary pathway to human infection.

“West Nile can appear anywhere in Los Angeles County, or around the state, and we are urging people to take precautions, such as getting rid of pools of stagnant water around their homes, and using a repellant containing
DEET when outdoors in mosquito-prone areas, especially around dawn or dusk,” he said.

There have been 139 West Nile virus infections in the county this year, according to the county. Among those with symptoms, 80 percent required hospitalization. Nearly 400 mosquito pools and 304 dead birds across the county have tested positive for the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than one in 150 people who are bitten by an infected mosquito become severely sick. But in those rare cases, the virus can cause encephalitis or even death.

Health officials said about 20 percent of people infected with the virus will experience symptoms such as fever, headaches, nausea, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash.

Experts recommend that to avoid the disease, residents should:

  • avoid outdoor activities around dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active;
  • wear long-sleeve shirts and pants when outdoors;
  • apply insect repellents containing active ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus;
  • keep tight-fitting screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out; and
  • eliminate all sources of standing water around their homes and properly maintain ornamental ponds, pools and spas.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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