LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Long Beach public health officials have confirmed the city's first death from West Nile Virus this year.
The victim was identified as an elderly man. He died after a long hospitalization, officials said. Further details on the patient are being kept confidential.
"This is a sad reminder of how severe West Nile virus can be," said Dr. Mitchell Kushner, the city's health officer. "We strongly encourage residents to protect themselves and family members from mosquitoes."
Public health officials say there have been 245 human cases of West Nile virus in California this year, including 12 fatalities. Long Beach has reported four cases this year.
The West Nile virus is generally blamed on mosquitoes, which typically pick up the virus from dead birds and spread it to animals and humans.
Those who become infected by the virus may never become sick or only suffer from mild symptoms such as headaches, fever, nausea, body aches and a mild skin rash. In rare cases, the virus can cause inflammation and swelling of the brain and death.
People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious complications from the virus.
While overall cases have been significantly lower this year in Long Beach than in previous seasons, public health officials are urging residents to take precautions, including:
- Emptying all standing water around the home to reduce areas where mosquitoes may breed such as flower pots and pet bowls.
- Making sure windows and door screens are in good condition
- Using insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or products containing IR3535.
- Limiting outdoor activity at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors.
City News Service contributed to this report.