07/25/2013 07:42 pm ET

West Nile Virus 2013: LA County Reports The First Five Human Cases This Year


Five cases of West Nile virus infections have been reported in LA County, the first of the 2013 season, the LA County Department of Public Health announced Thursday.

Two adults, who are recovering after being hospitalized, and three healthy blood donors who never became ill, are the county’s first human cases this year, NBC reports.

West Nile virus is passed to humans through an infected mosquito bite, and mosquitoes get the disease by feeding on infected birds.

There were 174 cases in LA County in 2012, the second highest number of human cases since 2004, Patch reports.

Symptoms -- which officials say only about 20 percent of people infected experience -- include headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Less than one percent of people who are infected with the virus develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness., according to the CDC.

The CDC suggests the following steps to avoid infection:

~ Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions.
~When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection. Don't apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent on the skin under your clothing.
~Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
~Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Use your air conditioning, if you have it.
~Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis.



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