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West Nile Virus Death Toll Now 4 In San Diego County

State laboratory testing determined that an 88-year-old southeastern San Diego man and a 91-year-old University City woman died of West Nile virus, raising the local death toll this year to four, San Diego County health officials announced today.

The two had previously been reported as suspected West Nile virus fatalities, but they had to be confirmed by the state lab. A fifth local death is pending confirmation, county officials said.

According to the county, 18 cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been confirmed so far this year in the San Diego area, including the fatalities, and 15 more cases are suspected.

"Remember to wear long sleeves, pants and insect repellent if you're going to be outside where mosquitoes may be, especially around dusk and dawn when they like to feed," said Dr. Sayone Thihalolipavan, the county's deputy public health officer. "And you should also look around inside and outside your homes to dump out standing water where mosquitoes can breed."

About 80 percent of people with WNV don't get symptoms, while the remainder will have headaches, fever, nausea, fatigue, a skin rash or swollen glands.

Around one in 150 cases are life-threatening, and the risk goes up for patients over age 50, according to the Health and Human Services Agency.

The best protection is to empty out areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed, stay indoors at dusk and dawn when the insects are most active, and wear long sleeves and pants or use repellent when outdoors.

County officials also urged residents to contact their vector control program when they find dead birds or green swimming pools, by calling (858) 694-2888 or emailing vector@sdcounty.ca.gov.

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