The first human case of West Nile virus in Los Angeles County was confirmed Wednesday by public health officials, but the patient was expected to recover.
The patient is a middle-aged adult who lives in the San Gabriel Valley. The person was hospitalized earlier this month and has chronic health conditions not related to West Nile virus, according to the county Department of Public Health.
The patient has since been released from the hospital.
West Nile virus is passed to human beings through the bite of an infected mosquito, which typically obtains the disease by feeding on infected birds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less 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.
Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the county Department of Public Health, said people who become infected can experience symptoms that can last for months or even years, such as fatigue, malaise and depression.
To avoid the disease, the county urged residents to:
-- 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;
-- eliminate all sources of standing water around their homes and properly maintain ornamental ponds, pools and spas;
-- request free mosquito fish from a local vector control district for placement in out-of-order swimming pools, spas and ponds to control mosquito breeding; and
-- contact the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District at (562) 944-9656 or online at http://glacvcd.org to report any significant mosquito problems in their neighborhoods, especially near vacant or foreclosed homes and abandoned swimming pools and to report dead birds, which play an important role in spreading the virus.
According to the county, West Nile virus has been detected in 16 dead birds in Los Angeles County this year.
Five other human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in the state -- two in Kern County and one each in Stanislaus, Merced and Fresno counties.