LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Spreading diseases such as malaria, West Nile and Zika, mosquitoes are among the deadliest animals in the world.
To date, California officials have reported a total of 91 West Nile virus cases in people statewide. Of those, L.A. County Public Health said it has identified 27 local cases.
West Nile virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental U.S.
Mosquito season is typically from March to late October or early November, and there are currently no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat the disease in people.
Most people infected with West Nile virus do not feel sick, but one in five people experience a fever and other symptoms, the CDC says.
About one in 150 infected people develop serious and sometimes deadly reactions to the disease, according to health experts.
Lucas Meyers of Studio City says his brother-in-law contracted West Nile virus and has been hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Cedars Sinai for the past week.
“West Nile is I think far more powerful than anyone is discussing,” Meyers said. “He’s a wonderful, brilliant man full of energy and light and for a mosquito… to take so much of his life is devastating.”
Officials with the local vector control district that monitors mosquito counts in the area said the Native mosquito, the Culex Mosquito, can potentially transmit the virus and is most active at dusk and dawn.
The Greater L.A. Vector Control District said there has been an uptick in positive West Nile virus cases this season compared with the last two years, but this year’s trend is near average.
The increase this year could be due to dryer weather conditions since mosquitos reproduce in standing water and warm temperatures.
“Because we don’t have a lot of rain here in L.A. County to create these sources, we see that a lot of these sources are created by us watering our gardens or lawns you know, irrigating our own yards. We are creating sources in that sense.” Medina-Diaz said.
The Vector Control District has confirmed 237 samples of West Nile Virus in mosquitoes across Southern California so far this year, with the highest concentration in the San Fernando Valley.
The Vector control district is posting signs across the Valley warning residents that West Nile virus has been detected in the area.
You can reduce your risk of West Nile virus by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites.
The vector control district also recommends getting rid of any standing water near your home.
She says people that are most vulnerable to West Nile virus complications are young children, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions.