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First West Nile Virus Case of 2009 Reported

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An asymptomatic blood donor in the Antelope Valley has tested positive for the West Nile Virus, marking the first case for the year, according to LA County health officials. As of June 19th in Los Angeles County, Public Health and the mosquito abatement districts have detected WNV in five dead birds, two mosquito pools, and three sentinel chickens. In past seasons, most of the infected birds and positive mosquitoes have been found in the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, and East Los Angeles County areas.

“People should take precautions to avoid mosquitoes, as that is the primary way this disease is transmitted. Mosquitoes obtain the virus by feeding on infected wild birds,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer.

In most cases, people who are infected with West Nile Virus never become sick, or have only very mild symptoms that include fever, headache, nausea, body aches, and a mild skin rash. Symptoms of West Nile Virus could appear within three to 12 days after infection. In these rare cases, the virus can cause encephalitis and death. The elderly are most at risk for severe cases of the disease.

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The county encourages residents to call in dead birds and "green" and stagnant swimming pools to 877-747-2243 and 626-430-5200, respectively.