LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Los Angeles County health officials today confirmed the county’s seventh death due to West Nile Virus, with three fatalities confirmed in the past week.

The three latest victims were men — two from South Los Angeles and one from the San Fernando Valley — and all had pre-existing health conditions, according to the county.

“We continue to see increased transmission of this virus that can cause serious disease,” according to Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s public health officer. “Taking a few simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of mosquito bites, the primary pathway to human infection.

“West Nile can appear anywhere in Los Angeles County, or around the state, and we are urging people to take precautions, such as getting rid of pools of stagnant water around their homes, and using a repellant containing DEET when outdoors in mosquito-prone areas, especially around dawn or dusk,” he said.

According to the county, there have been 139 West Nile virus infections in the county this year. Of those who showed symptoms, 80 percent required hospitalization. The virus has been detected in nearly 400 mosquito pools and 304 dead birds across the county.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than one in 150 people who are bitten by an infected mosquito become severely sick. But in those rare cases, the virus can cause encephalitis or even death.

Health officials said about 20 percent of people infected with the virus will experience symptoms such as fever, headaches, nausea, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash.

Expert recommend that to avoid the disease, residents should:

  • Avoid outdoor activities around dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
  • Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants when outdoors
  • Apply insect repellents containing active ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • Keep tight-fitting screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out and
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water around their homes and properly maintain ornamental ponds, pools and spas.