REDLANDS, Calif. - A 75-year-old real estate broker became the second person in California to die from the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, authorities said Sunday.
Morris Sternberg of Grand Terrace died Saturday at Redlands Community Hospital "as a result of complications from the virus," San Bernardino County Deputy Coroner Randy Emon said.
Emon said on the coroner's Web site Sunday that Sternberg was admitted to the hospital July 18 and diagnosed with reduced oxygen in the blood, dehydration and sepsis. Tests later confirmed that he had the virus.
Sternberg, who owned rental homes and duplexes in Grand Terrace, Riverside and Norco, liked to take naps on his home's front porch hammock and may have been bitten there, his wife Phyllis told the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper.
"You can't believe that a mosquito could do that," she said. "We need to get the word out to everybody and anybody. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and don't leave any water out."
She said the couple's neighbors last week drained standing water from flower pots and other places where the insects breed. Parts of the county had been fogged with insecticide.
Ken August, a spokesman for the California Department of Health Services, called the death "a very sad reminder of the seriousness of West Nile virus."
West Nile is spread to humans through infected mosquitoes. Many people who contract the virus show no symptoms. Others have flu-like symptoms. Less than 1 percent get very seriously ill with conditions such as meningitis or encephalitis.
The virus, first detected in the state in 2002, has infected more than 50 Californians this year in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, Imperial, Fresno and Kern counties.
Officials announced last month that a 57-year-old Orange County man had become the first person in the state to die of the virus. James Damiano, of Fullerton, died June 24.
The disease has sickened more than 260 people across the country so far this year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Including Damiano, the CDC has reported six deaths from the disease so far this year - including two in Arizona and one each in Texas, Idaho and Iowa.