LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A San Fernando man has died from complications of West Nile virus, becoming the first person in Los Angeles County to die from the virus this season, health officials have announced.

The victim was a man in his 60s, and he was hospitalized when he died,according to the county Department of Public Health.

Health officials said 20 people in the county have been diagnosed with West Nile virus, including three people who showed no symptoms but were identified when they donated blood.

 “Although most people bitten by a mosquito are not exposed to West Nile virus, some individuals may become infected with this disease and may experience symptoms that can last for months, even years, such as fatigue, malaise and depression,” according to Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s director of public health.

According to the state, there had been six fatalities from West Nile virus this year in California as of Aug. 26 — in Glenn, Sacramento, Sutter, Shasta and Stanislaus counties. Officials in Orange County, however, announced earlier this week that a woman in Seal Beach also died from the virus.

The Los Angeles County death, announced Aug. 29, will push the statewide total to at least eight.

Health officials urged residents to take steps to prevent the spread of the disease. Those measures include emptying all standing water that can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, maintaining secure windows and screens, using insect repellant, limiting outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outside.

Most people who get the infection do not feel symptoms, but about 20 percent can become feverish and feel headaches, body pain, nausea, fatigue and develop a skin rash.

More serious symptoms include, severe headaches, neck stiffness, confusion and muscle weakness or paralysis.

The public can report dead birds — which can be a sign of West Nile activity — by going online at http://www.westnile.ca.gov/report_wnv.php or calling (877) 968-2473. Stagnant pools of water should be reported to the county Public Health Environmental Health Bureau at (626) 430-5200, or to a local vector control agency.

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