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Local man hospitalized with West Nile Virus

Second confirmed case in state

POSTED August 1, 2011 5:44 p.m.

A Stanislaus County man remains hospitalized with West Nile Virus after the onset of symptoms on July 22. The 68-year old is the first human to test positive for West Nile in Stanislaus County this year, and the second person to test positive in the state.

“There is a lot of virus activity, specifically in the Turlock area,” said Dr. John Walker, Stanislaus County public health officer.                

West Nile Virus is most commonly transferred to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District traps and tests mosquitoes for West Nile Virus, and several traps in Turlock, Denair and surrounding areas have tested positive for the virus.

Jerry Davis, manager of Turlock Mosquito Abatement District, said there is a lag time between the onset of West Nile Virus symptoms in humans and the time that the positive test results are officially announced.

“There could be people that may have been infected that we don’t know about yet,” Davis said.

West Nile Virus does not cause symptoms in about 80 percent of those infected, according to the Center for Disease Control.  The other 20 percent develop West Nile Fever with symptoms ranging from fever, headache, tiredness, body aches and the occasional skin rash. Less than 1 percent of people infected by West Nile Virus develop neuroinvasive forms of the disease, including encephalitis or meningitis.

The more severe symptoms include disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness and paralysis and can lead to death. The man diagnosed in Stanislaus County remains hospitalized with the neuroinvasive form of West Nile Virus.

Davis said there were 13 confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus in Stanislaus County last year. Although the virus is more common in Turlock, Denair and Ceres, it can be carried to other surrounding areas by infected birds or mosquitoes.

The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency issued tips on how to avoid West Nile Virus. They urge residents to use insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so wearing insect repellant and protective clothing is especially important at those times. Windows should have tight-fitting screens with no holes or tears to keep mosquitoes out of residences.

Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water. All standing water should be drained, including flower pots, old car tires, pet bowls and rain gutters. Ponds and neglected swimming pools should be treated with mosquito fish, which are available for free from the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District.

Davis asked all residents to report neglected swimming pools in their neighborhood by calling 634-1234. More information about West Nile Virus is available at www.stanemergency.com.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.

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