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West Nile death reported in San Bernardino County

October 04, 2013|By Lisa Girion

Amid a rising number of West Nile virus cases and the first death of the year, San Bernardino County officials issued a warning Friday about the illness, which is spread by mosquitoes.

The name, age and gender of the person who died were not made public.

Authorities said they were aware of 10 people in San Bernardino County who showed symptoms of West Nile virus so far this year.

San Bernardino County Health Officer Maxwell Ohikhuare urged residents to take precautions.

“We continue to see an increase of WNV activity throughout the county," Ohikhuare said in a statement. “People over 50 years old should be especially cautious, as they are more likely to develop serious illness if they contract the virus.”

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird.

While most people infected with the virus show no signs, symptoms can include fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headache. Some people may develop severe symptoms, which can lead to brain inflammation, paralysis and death.

The San Bernardino death is the seventh in the state this year from West Nile. The others were in the counties of Los Angeles, Glenn, Sacramento and San Joaquin.

San Bernardino County public health officials advised people to take several precautions, including staying indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. Residents should also make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.

Clothes -- shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts that are loose fitting and light colored -- can provide a barrier against mosquitoes. And draining standing water -- such as birdbaths, ponds, old tires, buckets, clogged gutters or puddles from leaky sprinklers -- helps deprive mosquitoes of places to lay eggs.

Officials said insect repellent containing DEET also may be used.

Dead birds that may harbor the infection can be reported to the state West Nile virus toll-free hotline at (877) WNV – BIRD (968-2473) or online at www.westnile.ca.gov.

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Twitter: @lisagirion

lisa.girion@latimes.com

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