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First human West Nile Virus case reported in Los Angeles
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10:30, August 10, 2007

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A middle-aged man has been diagnosed with mosquito-borne West Nile Virus (WNV) infection in the Los Angeles area, health officials said Thursday.

It was the first human case of WNV illness in the area this year, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The man presented symptoms of fever, headache and fatigue in mid-July and was briefly hospitalized with WNV-associated meningitis. He is now recovering at home, officials said.

The man has frequently traveled through Southern California to work, but it remains unknown where he contracted the virus, officials said.

Up to Friday, West Nile virus has been detected in nine dead birds and 14 mosquito-infested pools in Los Angeles County.

Across California, 80 human cases of the WNV infection have been reported this year, including five deaths.

The virus is spread to humans through mosquitoes which can become infected by biting a bird that carries the virus, but it cannot be transmitted through person-to-person contact or directly from birds to humans, health officials said.

About 1 percent of people infected with the WNV will develop severe illnesses, including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms can last several weeks and neurological effects may linger.

If the virus enters the brain, it can cause deadly diseases including encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, or meningitis, an inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

There is no specific treatment for WNV infection, making prevention critical. Health officials advise citizens to avoid mosquito-infested areas at dawn and dusk, wear long-sleeve shirts and pants when outdoors, using insect repellents, cleaning and chlorinating swimming pools and emptying and washing birdbaths and wading pools weekly.

Source: Xinhua

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