Health officials reported Wednesday that an area woman diagnosed with a neuroinvasive form of West Nile Virus is the first confirmed human case of the disease in Stanislaus County this season.
The first mosquitoes of the season tested positive for West Nile virus on July 9, the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency reported.
The California Department of Public Health has found West Nile Virus in 21 counties in the state, including two human cases, which does not take into count the recent diagnosis for the Stanislaus County woman. The state has seen one death from the virus this year.
Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile Virus when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread West Nile Virus to humans and other animals when they bite, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected with West Nile virus will develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Less than 1 percent will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). About 10 percent of people who develop neurologic infection due to West Nile virus will die, according to the CDC. People over 50 years of age and those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and organ transplants, are at greater risk for serious illness.
There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile Virus infection. People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks or months. In the neuroinvasive forms, patients can suffer severe and sometimes long-term symptoms.
"West Nile virus activity in the state is increasing, so it is important to take every possible precaution to protect against mosquito bites," said State Public Health Officer and CDPH Director Dr. Karen Smith.
CDPH recommends that people protect against mosquito bites
and WNV by practicing the "Three Ds":
1. DEET - Apply U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 according to label instructions. EPA-registered repellents are recommended for use because they have been tested for safety and efficacy in preventing mosquito bites. Insect repellents should not be used on children under two months of age. For more information, visit CDPH's insect repellent toolkit.
2. DAWN AND DUSK - Mosquitoes that transmit WNV usually bite in the early morning and evening, so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
3. DRAIN - Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property by emptying flower pots, old car tires, buckets, and other containers. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact your local mosquito and vector control agency.
The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District has been conducting aerial spraying to control for mosquitos and has plans to continue the treatments.
Reporting and testing of dead birds are important steps in preventing West Nile Virus. A confirmed case of the virus in dead birds or mosquito samples helps to identify areas that need treatment to reduce mosquito activity. To report a dead bird, call the California State hotline at 1-877-WNV-BIRD or report it online at www.westnile.ca.gov. Birds of particular interest are crows, ravens, magpies, jays and raptors (hawk or eagle).
The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District is available to help with neglected pools in the prevention of mosquito development. To request District
service, call 634- or visit the District website at http://www.turlockmosquito.org/