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Woman dies of West Nile virus; first fatality in O.C. in four years

December 17, 2012 | 12:02 pm

A 61-year-old woman in Orange County has died of West Nile virus, the first person in the county to die from the disease since 2008

A 61-year-old woman in Orange County has died of West Nile virus, the first person in the county to die from the disease since 2008.

The death was reported Monday by the Orange County Health Care Agency, which said the woman died of West Nile neuroinvasive disease last week after being ill for several weeks.

It wasn't immediately clear where the woman was from, or where she contracted the virus.

A total of 39 cases of West Nile virus infections have been reported in Orange County this year, the highest figure since 2008, according to the county health agency.

There have been 148 cases of West Nile in Los Angeles County this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ventura County has reported only four cases, while Riverside County has had 19 and San Bernardino County 31, CDC figures show.

West Nile is a virus that is most commonly spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. It affects the central nervous system and can cause a potentially serious illness with symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, nausea and vomiting.

People can reduce the risk of West Nile by taking steps such as draining standing water from around a residence, using insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 on exposed skin, and limiting outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, which are peak mosquito biting times.

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-- KTLA

Photo: One of the thousands of mosquitoes that are trapped each year to be tested for West Nile virus. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

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