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Garden Grove man with West Nile dies

August 29, 2008|Stuart Pfeifer | Times Staff Writer

A Garden Grove man has died after being infected with West Nile virus, the second death in Orange County from the mosquito-transmitted disease this month, the Health Care Agency disclosed Thursday.

The man, who was not identified, was 64. The agency would not disclose the date he died -- other than to say it was this month -- or at which hospital. Asked why the agency would not release information about the man's death, spokeswoman Deanne Thompson said, "That's our policy as an agency."

Testing confirmed that the man had been infected with the disease, Thompson said. Humans contract the virus from the bites of infected mosquitoes, which contract it by feeding on birds that have the virus in their blood. Health officials say the risk of human infection in Southern California is the highest since 2004, when 710 people became infected with the virus and 21 died.

The Health Care Agency has confirmed 32 cases of West Nile virus in Orange County this year, the most since 2004, when there were 62 confirmed cases. People 50 and older are at the highest risk of acquiring West Nile neuroinvasive disease, the most serious form of infection, but there have been several serious cases involving people under 50, the agency said in a news release.

Dr. Eric G. Handler, Orange County's health officer, said he was concerned that the additional cases could spread during the upcoming holiday weekend when many people will be outdoors. Handler suggested that people protect themselves against the disease by using insect repellent before going out, emptying standing water to eliminate areas where mosquitoes breed, and repairing damaged window screens and doors.

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stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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