GARDEN GROVE (CBSLA) — Orange County public health officials say an elderly man from Garden Grove has died from West Nile virus, the first such death in the county this year.

The man, who was not identified, died with West Nile virus infection complications and is the county’s first human death associated with the virus. The county has had five symptomatic infections of West Nile virus this year – two of whom had West Nile neuroinvasive disease and three who had fever. Four of these patients were hospitalized, county officials said.

However, the majority of cases of West Nile fever do not seek medical care and are not tested, so the reported case counts “greatly underestimate the number of infected people in Orange County,” according to OC Health Care Agency officials.

Symptoms of West Nile fever include fever, headache, body aches and fatigue. More serious symptoms are severe headaches, neck stiffness, confusion, muscle weakness or vision loss, and these patients should seek medical care immediately.

West Nile virus is spread by mosquitos, so public health officials recommend that people take precautions like emptying all standing water, keeping window and door screens in good condition, wearing long-sleeved shirts or long pants outside or using insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus; and limiting outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active. People 50 years and older and those with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of serious complications from West Nile virus infection.

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