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L.A. County reports five West Nile virus cases so far this year

Los Angeles County has five reported cases of the West Nile virus, officials said, down from last year.

On Thursday, officials issued a warning to Santa Monica residents after discovering two dead birds that tested positive for West Nile virus.

A total of 56 dead birds infected with West Nile virus have been found in various parts of Los Angeles County.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have bitten infected birds. About 20% of people feel minor symptoms, which may include fever, aches and chills, with most never feeling any effects at all, officials said.

Less than one in 150 people become severely ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Very rarely do cases end in death.

Last year, Los Angeles County had 63 cases and four deaths related to West Nile virus.

The first human case of West Nile Virus in Los Angeles County this year was reported last month in the San Gabriel Valley.

"We're having a relatively light season for West Nile," said Jonathan Fielding, director of public health for Los Angeles County.

Last year at this time, there were 63 cases, officials said.

Health officials suggest people take precautions by eliminating sources of stagnant water that may be breeding grounds for mosquitoes, using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants.

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-- Melissa Leu

Follow Melissa Leu on Twitter and Google+.

 
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